Author - Jessica Thomas

About Jessica Thomas

She has a case of puppy-love and kitten-love and cub-love and...you get the picture! She hopes to own an animal farm someday. (This is not a smartypants reference to the George Orwell-authored seminal book.)

Find more about me on:

Here are my most recent posts

2 Must-See Campaigns (Tea Shop Couple and American Artist Monica)

2mustsee

We usually wax eloquent about the wonders of crowdfunding. This time, we’re giving the trumpets a rest and letting 2 cool campaigns do all the talking for us.

We promise not to go on about how cool crowdfunding is. Or how convenient it is. Or how easy it is to raise funds online on our platform. Or that it’s free. Or how you can not only fundraise for social causes but personal causes too. We promise. We won’t harp on it.

Instead, we’ve decided to let a couple of really cool campaigns do the talking for us. We’ll just make the introductions.

Campaign Numero Uno

The first campaign is about an elderly couple from Kochi who have been running a modest little tea shop for about 40 years. Vijayan and Mohana are in their mid-to-late 60s. What is unique to them is that they have travelled all over India and 16 other countries across the globe, including UAE, Egypt, Austria, France and Britain.

Their modest little tea shop doesn’t allow them this world-travelling luxury, but the enterprising duo hit upon the ideal method to get the funding they needed. They would take bank loans for travel expenses, go on their little foreign adventure and then return and spend the next 3 years working towards paying off the bank loan.

Next on the couple’s wanderlust list was United States of America. Unfortunately, as often occurs in life, there came a curve ball. Due to their advancing age, banks began rejecting their requests for a loan. Since the tea shop was and is the couple’s only source of funding, it seemed like the couple was going to have to give up on their dream of visiting USA and on further travels.

The media website The News Minute got wind of the Kochi couple’s plight and decided to tell their story. In fact, the website did one better – Co-Founder Vignesh decided to help the couple by crowdfunding for them. And so the tea shop couple’s inspiring campaign was born on Ketto.

Campaign Numero Dos

The second campaign is one from the crowdfunding website Indiegogo. A young American artist named Monica reached out to the online community to help her raise funds for a laptop. Her old one had broken down some time back and she had been borrowing laptops from friends to complete her design work and keep her income flowing.

The curve ball life threw here came when Monica needed to temporarily relocate from Chicago to San Francisco to focus on a new project. In a new city, Monica would not have friends to borrow a laptop from. She needed to get a MacBook Pro of her own. Her solution? Starting a campaign on Indiegogo and sharing her predicament with the online community, requesting for funds and emotional support.

Whereas the tea shop couple’s campaign successfully raised its goal amount on Ketto some time back, Monica’s campaign is still active and has another 10 days to go. Get the feel of a campaign in progress by visiting her campaign page. Check out the fun rewards she’s giving away for the support she gets.

There you go. Two cool campaigns that clearly illustrate how easy and rewarding it can be to fundraise a personal cause online – be it for your desire to travel, to make art, to invent some technological marvel, to sing, to act – or almost anything you desire.

So without much further ado, we invite you to get on Ketto and start your crowdfunding campaign today. Hasta pronto! See you soon!

 

Bhakti Sharma Does It Again!

Open-water swimmer Bhakti Sharma Tweets about breaking world record

Ketto is proud to be part of world record holder, open-water swimmer Bhakti Sharma’s amazing success.

If you were to meet her in passing, Bhakti Sharma would seem like just another twenty-something lass, making her way into adulthood. If you were to delve just a little bit deeper, you would realise you’re in the presence of some incredible talent.

This young lady is an open-water swimmer par excellence. Why are we using a superlative to describe her? Why a fancy French one at that? Because it’s a spot on description of the talented young lady! After all, Bhakti has just broken all kinds of world records! She just set a new world record by swimming 1.4 miles of the freezing Antarctic Ocean (it was at a temperature of one degree Celsius), in an amazing 52 minutes.

And that’s not all. She has now swum in all five oceans of the world, in addition to other water bodies. “I’ve broken the #WorldRecord for being the ‘Youngest swimmer in the World to #swim in all oceans’,” she Tweets. Bhakti has conquered the Arctic Ocean, the Atlantic, Indian, Pacific and now the Antarctic Ocean. She’s also swum the English Channel, the Gulf of Mexico, the Mediterranean Sea and others.

Why is Ketto bursting with pride and excitement? Because Bhakti Sharma campaigned on our website and successfully raised nearly 8 lakhs for her swim in the Antarctic Ocean, dedicating it to girl-child education. We are proud as peacocks to be part of Bhakti’s mission to conquer the Antarctic and the world!

Bhakti adds, “I have just broken a World Record for my country, #India! Thank you all for your #support!” In a country where most sports (save cricket) are severely marginalized, we’re honoured to be able to provide talented sportspeople an avenue to gather support. Ketto is proud to be part of Bhakti’s success and India’s progress.

Here’s to more laurels for Bhakti Sharma and for India!

Want to know more about Bhakti? Click me!
Want to check out her campaign? Click me!
Want to gather support for your own talent? Click to get started!

How To Have A Rocking 2015

Have a rocking 2015

Welcome to a brand new year! It’s a clean slate and a fresh start for us all! What better way to inaugurate the New Year than by doing something good, something creative, something special…and spreading happiness with it? Here are some ideas to get your New Year to a rocking start:

  • Start a campaign for a social cause. Raising awareness about a cause that needs it is an incredibly worthy cause. You will be educating everyone you reach out to about the issue at hand. Knowledge is power, and giving people this power only enhances the quality of our lives. For instance, I didn’t know childhood eye cancer could be cured with timely intervention, but after reading this campaign, now I’m knowledgeable and will spread the information wherever I see it being required.
  • Start a campaign for a creative pursuit. This is the year you could really let yourself be free and grow. Work towards your creative/entrepreneurial goal and let it come to life. Start working on your project and when you’re ready to ask for support, start preparing your campaign. There are several advantages to crowdfunding your project. Get started and experience them for yourself!
  • Crowdfunding is a wonderful way to let people know what you’re all about. Whether you’re campaigning for a social cause or a personal/creative one, when you reach out to your social network and tell them all about it, you’re baring your soul to them. There is nothing more true and touching. Open your heart and show the world who you really are. It’s all good!
  • Don’t hesitate to contact that old friend you lost touch with years ago. This is a great way to get back in touch with old friends. And an amazing way to make new ones too! So reach out to your social network and tell them all about your campaign. We hope it revives old friendships and starts some new ones!
  • Getting your close friends and family more involved in your campaign is the perfect way to strengthen and renew your bond with them. Working towards a common goal, meeting over meals and discussing campaign strategies and brainstorming ideas for rewards can be a lot of fun! Have at it!
  • This could be the ideal way to let that special someone discover the real you. Contact them and introduce your campaign and/or project to them. It can’t not have a positive impact on their view of you! And it definitely can’t hurt! Good luck!

The New Year is a blank canvas. Paint some vibrant colours onto it in 2015! The future is yours for the taking!

Start a campaign for a social cause or creative project today!

An Incredible Heart (Jasmeet Singh Gandhi’s Successful Campaign for Childhood Eye Cancer Treatment)

Child with eye cancer or retinoblastoma

This is the tale of an ordinary individual who did an extraordinary thing.

As told by Kunal Kapoor, actor and co-founder of Ketto.

I meet a lot of interesting people in my profession as an actor. However, the individual I want to introduce to you is far removed from Bollywood. His is not a face you would have seen on the silver screen. But just like a film, he has a story that needs to be told.

It is common knowledge that in the age of technology and instant gratification, trying to get people’s attention – and holding it – is a Herculean task. That is another reason why this story – and this individual – are so incredible.

His name is Jasmeet Singh Gandhi. He is an ordinary 46-year-old working an ordinary job. What he managed to do, however, is truly extraordinary.

Jasmeet Singh Gandhi profile picture

Jasmeet happened to come across Iksha Foundation, an NGO that works specifically towards the cause of eye cancer in children. He learned about the disease, how easily it could be prevented, and how many children have lost or will lose their lives because of it. And he decided to do something about it.

Since he had come across Iksha Foundation through RBL Bank, the company his wife works for, he began to map out a game plan with them. Jasmeet decided to start campaigning on Ketto to raise awareness and funds for the treatment of childhood eye cancer. Treatment for one child with cancer-affected eyes can rack up a bill of one lakh. So he also decided to draw attention to his campaign by bicycling an incredible 1,000 kilometres from Mumbai to Bangalore to raise awareness and funds. This idea formed because of his love for fitness, and the fact that he wanted a strong motivational factor to help push his campaign. A campaign he named Umeed 1000.

Umeed 1000 ran on Ketto for five weeks with the initial goal of 5 lakh rupees. Jasmeet later increased it to 10 lakhs when he realised it was a goal he may well be able to reach. What his campaign managed to raise was 24 lakh rupees. Rs.24,00,100 to be precise.

Jasmeet shares, “Since the awareness of this disease is very low, I had to meet a lot of people and organisations in person and explain to them the concept behind Umeed 1000 and the disease itself. Besides meeting a lot of people, we created a Facebook page and a Twitter handle (#umeed1000) which was used extensively while tweeting and posting on Facebook. We also used radio and press interviews to spread the word to a wider audience.”

“One-on-one interactions were most effective in convincing people to donate,” Jasmeet adds. “I reached out to approximately 200 people either via email, phone or a personal visit.” He also spread the word throughout all the RBL bank branches, so employees became aware of the campaign as well.

The reaction to Jasmeet’s campaign was that of amazement and empathy. “People were amazed that I would dare to undertake a journey of 1,000 kilometres. And there was, of course, a lot of empathy for the kids affected by this disease.”

The sobering facts that had moved Jasmeet to action also moved those he reached out to. What had drawn him to the cause was that children were needlessly affected by it. “Not many people know that Retinoblastoma (eye cancer) affects children between 2 months to 5 years. It is a disease that can be hereditary in nature and can be fatal. The good part is that it can be detected with basic physical examination and, if detected early, it has a high cure rate of 92-95%.”

Jasmeet’s campaign drew in six corporate sponsors – RBL Bank, Goqii, rediff.com, UFO movies, Titan and Hero cycles – and over a hundred individual supporters. “We were extremely lucky to get some tremendous response form a cross-section of family, friends, colleagues, and of course, corporate sponsors,” he acknowledges, adding, “We managed to collect and donate Rs.24 lakhs. It was a very fulfilling experience since this will be used to cure little kids who cannot afford the treatment.”

He continues, “I met the kids when I reached Bangalore and visited Narayana Netralaya, where they get treated. It was a humbling experience.”

He concludes, “I was lucky to have the full support of my family – my wife and daughters who encouraged me throughout. I am lucky to work for an organization like Microsoft that encourages such efforts, and with colleagues who cheered me on whole-heartedly as well.”

The progress of the children’s treatment will be shared by Iksha Foundation with all those involved – and those who want to be involved.

I hope Jasmeet’s incredible story and incredible heart has moved you as much as it moved me.

Below are some facts to be aware of.

Statistics

Eye cancer can be fatal. Statistics show that one on every 20,000 babies is affected by retinoblastoma. Every day, four children are affected by this disease in India, and one in four dies from it.

Prevention

Look for a white reflex in the centre of the eyeball. Visit the doctor right away if you spot something, or even if you find a child squinting one or both eyes. Remember, early detection can lead to a cure. Treatment for a child affected by retinoblastoma in both eyes comes to Rs.1 lakh on average, with the child requiring treatment till 12 years of age.

If you want to do something for this cause, start a campaign or support another cause here.

Thank you.

–          Kunal Kapoor

 

Save Our Kids, Save Our Future (Awareness Days for Some Children’s Issues)

Close-up image of 2 underprivileged children for Children's Day

Children are our future. Therefore, it follows that for us – the world – to have a better future, the world’s children need to have one too. And for that to happen, each child on our planet needs to be a healthy, educated, happy child. Here comes the hiccup.

Chronic malnutrition affects 165 million children across the globe (70% of these children are in Asia alone). What starving child could possibly be happy? And how could a malnourished child, battered with illnesses and stunted physical and cognitive development, ever be able to get a decent education?

The future of 165 million children is bleak. Therefore the future of our world is bleak. And unfortunately, this is not the only statistic that impedes our future. There are other issues that harm a child’s growth and quality of life as well. Poverty is a big factor. Disease is another. Physical and sexual abuse also traumatize a child and adversely affect their development.

There are so many factors to tackle, to ensure a safe, bright future for our planet’s children. No wonder we have several assigned days and months to observe these issues, to raise awareness and collectively work towards improving the lives of our children and therefore, our future.

For instance, World Orphan Day is observed in November to raise awareness about the 153 million (approximately) orphans in the world who have lost either one or both parents. Heart-wrenching statistic, isn’t it? Imagine the struggles of a parentless child.

Hold on. There is more coming. World Orphan AIDS Day (in May) observes the struggles of orphans who have lost their parent/s due to AIDS. According to statistics, 17.8 million children across the world are presently struggling through this circumstance.

With the emotional trauma of being orphaned and trying to survive parentless, it’s unsurprising that we have Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day (also in May) to try to ensure all children – be they orphaned or not – have the emotional support and guidance they need to help them navigate through the challenges of life.

Don’t think regular kids have anything much to be emotionally strained over? Did you know bullying is such a big factor in schools that there are movements like Anti-Bullying Day/Month (October) that aim to raise awareness of the several faces of bullying and how to put an end to it? Cyber bullying is the new-age avatar of bullying, a worrisome aspect that needs addressing. Other forms of bullying include physical bullying, emotional bullying and sexting. This last involves circulating nude photos or suggestive messages about a schoolmate.

Today, there are Pink, Blue and Purple Shirt Days to help raise awareness about the negative effects of bullying. It is unfortunate that many consider bullying a natural part of childhood, especially considering its disturbing by-product – suicide. The suicide rate among the youth is gradually climbing and needs to stop!

Want to do your bit to raise awareness in support of children? Support a campaign for children today! 

Want to do more? Start your own campaign and change the world for the better.

 

Pinktober Fest (Breast Cancer Awareness)

Pink ribbon for Breast Cancer Awareness Month of October

Most of us are culturally conditioned to view the colour pink as a feminine one. For now, let’s leave aside the feminist concern of the harm this kind of thinking causes. Let’s delve into another calling card of the colour – its association with breast cancer.

Significance of the Colour Pink

History buffs will be interested in this little nugget: The colour pink became internationally associated with breast cancer in the early 1990s thanks to a joint marketing ploy by American magazine ‘Self’ and the cosmetics brand Estee Lauder. Initial forays had also been made into the colour’s association with breast cancer awareness by the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, but it was Self magazine editor’s brainwave to market pink ribbons for her breast cancer awareness issue, and Estee Lauder’s backing it full-force that made pink what it is today.

Today, pink ribbons universally symbolise breast cancer awareness. But the ribbon is not the only pink strip of cloth that promotes awareness for breast cancer. We also have Pink Hijab Day, which combines breast cancer awareness with that of awareness of Islam.  This was begun by a clever teenager in Missouri, USA who wanted to break the stereotypes surrounding Muslim women. She and her friends decided to wear pink head scarves (hijabs) one day to encourage others to ask about the colour of their scarves and the scarves themselves, thus opening up free dialogue about both breast cancer and Islam.

The Colour of October is Pink!

With more and more Muslim women joining this movement, it was only natural that the next step be to make the pink hijab movement official. The Susan G. Komen Foundation was contacted, and in 2004, Pink Hijab Day was born, and is now observed every last Wednesday of October.

Since the foray of Self magazine and Estee Lauder into promoting breast cancer awareness, October has been designated the month for events and fundraisers dedicated to its research and awareness. October is internationally recognized as the month for breast cancer awareness.

Today, there are several avenues through which breast cancer awareness is supported. the month of October sees restaurants, bars, clubs, clothing stores, TV shows, celebrities – everyone coming together to raise awareness and funds in various ways.

Hard Rock Café, Andheri (Mumbai), for instance, has a huge ‘Pinktober’ signboard on its building’s exterior. The NGO United Sisters Foundation organizes Pinkathon, a marathon for women, to help raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research and for underprivileged women afflicted with breast cancer. This is done via the Women’s Cancer Initiative – Tata Memorial Hospital. Ketto has had several Pinkathoners start fundraising pages on our website to further this cause.

The American talk show ‘Ellen’, hosted by comedian Ellen DeGeneres, has several gimmicky ways in which funds are raised for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation (now renamed Susan G. Komen for the Cure). The list of people who support breast cancer awareness could very well go on for pages and pages, actually!

Myth ‘Bust’ing

So, as part of this collective effort to raise awareness, Team Ketto is now going to ‘bust’ a few myths on breast cancer here (pardon the pun!). Let’s jump right to it:

–          Use of antiperspirants and deodorants do not cause breast cancer. So please feel free to have aromatic underarms. In India’s tropical weather, it’s a necessity!

–          Mammograms do not cause cancer to spread. Having an annual mammogram if you are 40 or above is totally cool.

–          Having gene mutation BRCA1 or BRCA2 in your DNA does not mean breast cancer is a given. It may increase the likelihood of breast cancer but that’s about it.

–          Finding a lump on your breast does not necessary mean it is cancerous. There are more chances of it being a benign/harmless growth. Go to a doctor to ensure your peace of mind.

–          If a family member has had breast cancer, it does not automatically mean you will get it too. There are a LOT of other factors that need to be taken into consideration. So rest easy.

–          And in case it needs to be confirmed, breast cancer is most certainly NOT contagious!

Alright then. Here’s to a Happy Pinktober Fest, ladies (and gents)!

 Support breast cancer! Start a campaign now!