We are volunteer-run organization in partnership with the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network. Initially inspired into action by a friend’s plight, South Asians For Life has transformed itself from a patient-specific campaign to a community-oriented resource aimed at improving the odds for Canadians of South Asian descent in need of a stem cell transplant.
SA4L was responsible for adding about 900 new potential donors to the OneMatch network, increasing South Asian participation by 20%. We accomplished this through a number of initiatives:
- partnering with different communities to hold online registration events at religious and cultural festivals as well as having speakers at temples and mosques;
- lobbying OneMatch successfully to hold a test “Swab-a-thon” where potential donors gave on-the-spot DNA samples via cheek swabs – a model that was soon after adopted by OneMatch;
- using social media like Facebook, e-mail campaigns and blogging to mobilize online registration;
- consulting with other patient-centred ad-hoc groups from the Chinese, Afro-Caribbean and South Asian (US) communities to share best practices;
- developing South Asian-specific multimedia material; and,
- obtaining mainstream and ethnic media coverage – CBC Radio One’s Toronto afternoon show, Toronto Star, Vancouver Sun, OMNI television, Desi Life magazine, and more.
SA4L is playing an important role in the field of South Asian health and community involvement through our relationship with OneMatch. We confer with them regularly and have a seat on their Central Ontario Diversity Liaison Committee. In turn, OneMatch allows us to keep our administrative costs at a minimum, by providing tax receipts for charitable donations on our behalf, allowing SA4L to focus on our volunteer-driven initiatives.
Our key objectives going forward include:
- Increasing the number of South Asian stem cell registrants in the OneMatch system and broadening of the OneMatch registration base by targeting both specific communities and the wider South Asian population;
- Providing support for patients and their families by helping them develop grassroots campaigns to find a stem cell match;
- Building awareness within the South Asian population of the crucial role of ethnicity plays in finding a stem cell match and the importance of joining the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network;
- Acting as a catalyst for change among partner organizations to ensure that they are meeting the needs of their diverse communities, helping them tailor their strategies to the unique characteristics of different ethnic communities;
- Creating a knowledge-transfer model so groups across Canada can organize and run swabbing events and campaigns; and,
- Developing a community of volunteers as a means of building capacity for increased participation in civic life by minorities and fundraising within the community.
We are a small group with big plans. Join us and help change the statistics! As OneMatch says, “it’s time to level the playing field.”