Young people in the Indian state of Kerala are playing an important role in the Catholic Church’s initiative to spread cancer awareness in communities.
The Syro-Malabar Catholic Archeparchy of Trichur-Palayoor in Kerala has organized school children, under the guidance of teachers, to volunteer to spread awareness about the disease.
Priya Dhansh, one of the student volunteers, told LiCAS News that being part of the initiative helped her and her family to lead a healthy lifestyle.
“It taught me the do’s and don’t’s, how casual mistakes can lead to a disastrous end, and why it is important to eat nutritious food and avoid a sedentary lifestyle,” said Priya.
She said that taking part activities, such as debates organized by the diocese, make people aware of how they can lead a healthy life and keep cancer at bay.
“People do pay attention to our calls,” she said. “We ask them not to smoke, to exercise regularly, to and maintain body weight.”
“They do care about themselves and their loved ones and that is why they listen to us,” said Priya. “We really feel a great sense of satisfaction when people appreciate our efforts,” added the girl.
Through the Church project, student volunteers have been given the chance not only to assist patients, but also to mobilize resources for various activities.
Jesu Dass, another student who has been actively taking part in the Church initiative, said he feels “spiritual solace” by making people aware of the disease.
“I believe there is no greater service to the Lord than this. Saving people’s lives is the greatest of all deeds that we do,” he said.
He joins visits to villages and hamlets to inform people about cancer.
“In years to come, the result of our earnest efforts will be visible,” he said. “I am sure we will build a cancer-free society one day.”
Father Joy Mookken, director of the Archdiocese’s social service arm, said the project with the children “will undoubtedly help to create a better tomorrow.”
“Children are transformed under this program from a modest catalyst in a single household to a major catalyst in society to bring about more significant changes,” said the priest.
A study done by the Public Health Foundation, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, and the Indian Council of Medical Research, shows that cancer rates in the country grew by 28 percent between 1990 and 2016.
The study claims that cancer is believed to be the cause of 8.3 percent of all fatalities in India. It also notes that in 2016 alone, 1.1 million people in the country had been diagnosed with a terminal illness.
Malnutrition, nutritional hazards, high blood pressure, high glucose levels, and air pollution were the main causes of the disease’s rising risk factors.
Another study done by a Central University in India’s capital Delhi reveals that cancer affects not only people’s health but also India’s economy.