Hailing from a family with generations in the Army, Vivek Mehra too was expected to join the forces, a dream that Mehra passionately harboured.
But after trying four times and getting rejected on medical grounds, a disappointed Mehra found himself foundering, what’s next.
It was in 2016 during the Uri attacks when Mehra was in conversation with his father about the reaction of the country.
His father, who calls army men ‘brothers in uniform’, said to him, ‘brothers don’t talk, they act.’ “And that’s how my journey of donating blood at military hospitals started.
With time, it’s became a movement under my NGO, I Am Still Human,” said Mehra, 25, who was recently in Delhi conducting his seventh blood donation camp at the Ramjas college.
However, there were other reasons that got Mehra involved in this initiative. A friend who was serving at the Siachen Glacier at that time had a child who was suffering from thalassemia.
“With this a huge worry on his mind, it was not be possible for him to concentrate on his duties. So, when the army is busy serving the country, we should at least try and look after their family.”
Having closely known people who were killed in the line of duty, Mehra saw very few civilians come out to meet the families and follow up with them.
“There has been a trend that politicians, bureaucrats and civilians often talk about standing with the forces and helping the families who have lost their loved ones but unfortunately it has been limited to the stage.
The families don’t need your money. All they need is respect,” says Mehra who believes that due to limited exposure, the families of the army officials find it hard to adjust in civilian areas. “A lot of people try to exploit them.”
Initially, there was little acceptance to the cause. “I went to Lt General KJ Singh to share my ideas. He came on board and directed me on how to proceed further.”
Today, the NGO sets up donation drives and also works in creating awareness about the Army. “We work towards making people aware of the different entries into the armed forces.
You don’t have to be a fighter, you can join as a teacher or even a lawyer.” Mehra has also been actively reaching out to people in the slum areas to enrol into the army to serve the country for their own economical upliftment.
“We are also looking at inspiring people to donate money directly for the battle casualties.” Next on his list is to make possible a virtual blood bank exclusively for the use of army.