It’s true. Dengue doesn’t differentiate. This season particularly saw even the likes of Sonam Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Katrina Kaif, Ranveer Singh and Vir Das fall prey to the viral disease. They jumped back up on their feet in no time, thanks to the best of medical attention at their finger tips. What about those who can’t afford it? Or worse, don’t know what’s ailing them? Three youngsters from the city – Lavika Motwani, Ahilya Malhoutra and Purvi Bajaj have become crusaders for the cause and are fighting back to reclaim their beloved Bengaluru from a disease that has been plaguing it for a while now, through their Bite Back Initiative.
Over 20 percent of their class at Mallya Aditi International School was bitten by the dreaded mosquitoes and all of them knew someone who had suffered through it. “This summer, during my much-awaited holiday in the US, I experienced headaches, joint pains and a fever shortly after. I had access to some amazing doctors, but kids at government schools didn’t,” says Lavika Motwani. The 16-year-old taught English and math basics at a government school. “One of the Saturdays, I found a kid missing and enquired only to discover that he’d lost his life battling dengue. There was no worse feeling than hearing those words,” she says, channelling her artistic hobby for a cause, hoping she can pick a career that will allow her to help others. “We wanted to start the New Year with a change, which is why we have designed calendars for the year 2016,” they say about the medium through which they are raising funds. These funds will go towards purchasing mosquito coils for the Cox Town Junior School, a government run school. Having placed an order for 300 calendars which are priced at Rs 200 each, the girls ran through it in under two days. “We even received a donation of Rs 20,000. Since everyone has been so supportive and generous, we might even be able to supply mosquito coils for a few other schools,” says 17-year-old Ahilya Malhoutra.
Even as the girls hope that Dengvaxia, the world’s first dengue vaccine, will benefit those less fortunate who may believe purchasing mosquito preventives to be an unnecessary expenditure, they continue to do their bit. “We are using two different strategies to spread awareness – one is through social media and another one is targeted at Government schools, which will be done through interesting posters and catchy presentations on what dengue is, the symptoms to look out for and means of prevention,” says 16-year-old Purvi Bajaj.
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