HYDERABAD : As part of my work, I often come across people wanting to cut their hair short and I am pained to see the hair going waste. That’s when it hit me that I should probably collect the hair, get it made as wigs and give it to cancer patients who lose their hair,” says A Shiva Kumar Yadav, from Chandanagar in Hyderabad. Between March 2020 to January 2021, all through the lockdown, Shiva said he received several requests for wigs and he managed to hand over 30.
This 27-year-old professional hairstylist took it upon himself to start collecting hair for the cause. He travels everywhere to collect hair from donors and then hand over the final product to the recipient. “On one hand, people with long hair want makeovers and dream of having short hair. On the other hand, there are cancer survivors who lose hair while undergoing chemotherapy.
This affects their mental health and confidence. Meanwhile, I volunteered with an organisation in Mumbai and part of my work was to create awareness about hair and cancer. After a few months, I realised that there are thousands of cancer warriors everywhere and so little is being done to give them solace this way. I decided to start one in Hyderabad, my hometown,” he says.
Thus Hyderabad Hair Donation For Cancer Patients Organization (also the Facebook page), a registered organisation, took birth. “We are a nonprofit organisation and don’t charge anything from donors (even if it means Shiva going all the way to their city) or from the recepient. We are happy to know that the recipient is happily smiling as he /she is going to wear some confidence and the donor is sure to rest easy knowing that his/her donation has truly made a difference,” he adds.
While a synthetic wig costs a few thousands and available online, it may lead to skin allergies in cancer patients, aggravating their health. Natural wigs cost 10 times more than synthetic ones. “That’s one of the reasons I worked relentlessly during Covid-19 lockdown to collect hair and get it done locally. I found a wig maker in Hyderabad and started getting it done.
I recently travelled to Adilabad on my bike to deliver it to a woman. I was surprised when I got a call from a young Zilla Parishad school girl who donated hair.” Shiva says he spends many hours co-ordinating calls and delivery. His mission is to become the ‘go-to’ person for wigs for cancer patients. He urges people to donate hair like they donate food or clothes.
“Don’t wait for your birthday or anniversary to cut hair. It takes seven ponytails of 12 inches long to make one wig. There is always a shortage of hair and therefore let me know and I will come and collect,” he says. Among the people who donated hair for the cause are Indian boxer Swapna and grand daughter Paid imarri Venkatasubba Rao who wrote the pledge and politician T Jeevan Reddy. Those keen to reach out to Shiva can write to his Facebook page mentioned above. He is ready to come to your doorstep to collect hair or to hand over the final wig. “I love to bring wigs and smiles,” he says.
— Manju Latha Kalanidhi kalanidhi@ newindianexpress.com @mkalanidhi