Introducing Cuddles Foundation, the only NGO in the country focusing on the issue of malnutrition amongst underprivileged children fighting cancer. In the short span of 3 years since their inception the NGO has seen meteoric expansion in its operations.
Cuddles Foundation works through tie-ups with the government and charity hospitals. Its programs include, without being limited to, capacity building at hospitals, nutritional supplementation, midday meals in OPD and providing ration baskets to needy families. Currently it is working with more than 18,000 children, out of whom approximately 30% are new enrollments, across 17 hospitals and 9 cities per year and reaches out to more than 3,000 kids every month.
On November 7th, 2016, a press interaction was held with Dr. Sameer Bakhshi (AIIMS) and Purnota Dutta Bahl (Founder and CEO, Cuddles Foundation) about providing food for children undergoing cancer treatment. It took place at the Radisson Blu Marina Hotel, Connaught Circus, New Delhi.
Purnota Dutta Bahl began the Cuddles Foundation as a small drive with a strong belief amongst her friends and family, after she visited the Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai. A mother to three beautiful daughters, when she came across families of children undergoing cancer treatment experience a sea of challenges including lack of funds and access to nutritious meals, she decided to combine her love and expertise to reach out to them. She realised healthy and nutritious meals and supplements are a luxury to most of these underprivileged families.
With integrity, compassion and truth as the core values at Cuddles Foundation, Purnota believes,
“It is the work that we do that will make the brand”.
In Delhi, Cuddles Foundation is a strategic partner for holistic nutrition support for the patients at the OPD of the Institute Rotary Cancer Hospital at AIIMS which is spearheaded by Dr Sameer Bakshi.
“I…The fact is that childhood cancer is curable provided it is detected on time and the right steps are taken to fight the disease, one important step being offering nourishment to these malnourished children especially during treatment so their bodies gain strength to withstand the treatment and recover quickly.”
Cuddles Foundation has sponsored a 3 year research grant to AIIMS with an aim to ‘establish a nutritional counseling program and to develop a nutritional database in pediatric patients with cancer.’ Under this grant Cuddles Foundation is sponsoring :
– A trained nutritionist in the field of pediatric oncology nutrition who counsels the patients in the OPD.
– Branded OTC Protein supplementation like threptin biscuits, B Protein powder, simyl mct powders etc
– Monthly ration for 15 families every month which supports the child and 2 adults of the family. This bundle consists of 24 items including high quality wheat, rice, dals, til, jaggery etc to ensure that the child gets the required nutrition while at the home/ temporary accommodation.
– Mid meal snack supplementation in the OPD: Every child who visits the OPD gets a banana and lassi. This makes sure that the child does not go hungry while waiting (in the crowded OPD) for their turn to see the doctors.
- We lose a classroom full of kids undergoing cancer treatment every single day to malnutrition
- 30% of children under treatment survive cancer but die due to avoidable infections because their bodies are too weak to fight
- 1 in every 3 children is forced to abandon cancer treatment because their bodies can’t stand chemotherapy
- Even if underprivileged children manage to raise funds for treatment, they are unable to start treatment due to malnourishment
A simple solution to all of the above is Nutrition!
Cuddles Foundation uses a 4 pronged approach to support as many children and families as possible:
Nutritional Guidance and Counseling: Cuddles Foundation nutritionists and social workers work tirelessly to counsel and advise the children, parents and caregivers. They perform the critical function of ensuring that the children get the needful nutritional guidance care not only at the hospital but also at home.
Nutritional Supplementation: They provide children with nutritional supplements, mid-day meals, eggs, fruits, ready-to-use therapeutic foods and other related products that help build their immunity and increase their chances of coping successfully with the strong chemotherapy sessions.
Ration Program: The foundation provide ration bundles including rice, wheat flour, moong dal, jaggery and other basic supplies to families fighting cancer to help feed nutritious meals to their child and stay for the treatment.
Research: They conduct groundbreaking studies on the impact of nutritional intervention in collaboration with Tata Memorial Hospital and AIIMS. These studies further help in creating awareness about the cause.
Their Achievements so Far:
- Cuddles Foundation received the ‘Best New NGO Award’ in 2013-14, at the prestigious CanIndia Conclave for its significant social impact.
- Successfully deployed a team of 25 nutritionists stationed at 16 hospitals in India, the first of its kind in the country.
- Mentor to NGOs like Annam, Mumbai.
- Forged corporate ties ups with Mondelez, Britannia, Aditya Birla group, Anand Rathi Wealth Management, Jewelex, JLL India and many more.
- Planned and executed successful fund raisers annual events across Mumbai, Bangalore.
- Built a dedicated donor group of 500+ individual donors, providing consistent funding.
- Advocated the cause of nutritional support for children with cancer within the medical fraternity as well as the corporate.
- Co-host and core team member of the SIOP (International Society of Paediatric Oncology), National conference on nutrition held in conjunction with Tata Memorial Hospital for the past 2 years.