Meera Sharma, a 22 year old is sucessfully running ‘Tangled’ which is an organisation that provides organic wigs to cancer patients especially women to boost up their self confidence. Meera is the chairperson of the Rotaract Club of Women’s Christian College, Chennai. After finding that the real hair wigs were uncomfortable and costly too(nearly about Rs. 30,000), Meera took the initiative to change the lives of people near and far. She started by donating her own hair for the cause and partenerd with Raj hair International, Green Trends and many more who agreed to make the wigs at Rs. 4,500. It was then distributed to the cancer patients for free. A few glimpses of her awards and acheivements are as under:
1- Meera was awarded with the ‘Best emerging Rotaractor’ award from the District Rotaract Council.
2- The Rotary international district Conference recognised her for her bold Initiative and awarded her for the same..
3- The best project award was also given to Tangled in the Annual District Rotaract awards..
4- Vijay Tv, a well know television network in the South also recognised their Project with an award at the Vijay Sigaram thotha pengal awards..
5-Raindrops a social organisation based in chennai also recognised the team Tangled for their initiative.
”More than receiving awards. I think what made us happy was that our project reached a lot of people. Thanks to the media for that. Now many people are aware of it and who ever is in needs reaches out to us or the cancer institute for help” says Meera.
Today, Tangled is working across India to provide free organic wigs to the underpriviledged cancer patients boosting their self confidence and giving them new lives through this initiative..
In conversation with Meera Sharma:
I am 22. Born and brought up in Chennai. I have finished my BBA in Women’s Christian College and now I am working for Standard Chartered GBS. That’s all short and sweet..
There is a small story behind this. In second year of my college it was mandatory for us to be part of some sort of service oriented clubs within college. So I chose Rotaract because I have known the good things Rotaract has been doing since school and I was always interested in it. So without a second thought, I registered myself into it.
My seniors from the Rotaract club of WCC then thought about this idea of making human hair wigs for cancer patients. And I was part of it as a Project Secretary. This idea clicked us when we saw a youtube video on human hair wigs.
So as I said it started when my seniors watched a youtube video on human hair wigs. Later, we figured out that it is a rare practice in India and most people didn’t know that such things do exist. So, we first started researching on this. We met a few doctors to understand what exactly it is. Why it’s rare, why it’s important and how is it beneficial to cancer patients. So after meeting the doctors we understood that during the course of chemotherapy.. cancer patients lose a lot of hair .. from not just head but all over the body including eyebrows. We also got to know that these treatments really brings down the patients self esteem, especially women and kids. Some of them even avoid making a public appearance and kids avoid going to school. Some cancer is curable and some is life taking. But mental health and stability is most important to overcome that stage of life. And it was important to keep them confident and their self esteem high. So, finally we chose this project.
Intial days were difficult because we were just figuring out what and how to go with the project. A lot of research, meeting doctors, understanding the procedure and most importantly finding a wig maker as cost of human hair wigs were really high and we being college students could not afford investing huge money from our pockets. So we were also looking for sponsers. More than that we were not sure on running this project because in south women treasure their hair, especially in Chennai where we were about to do the project. Question was will people come forward to donate their treasures for cancer patients.. but what kept us moving was our love for this project. We were a small team closely working for this. More than the initial days the challenge was when I decided to continue the project for the second time. When all the seniors had left, I was in the final year and was chosen to be the head of Tangled. New team.. New people.. ofcourse everyone knew what the project was about but none knew the hard work behind. The team was first hesitating to continue the project because it takes a lot of time and we had many projects to execute in the same year and Tangled involved a lot of money, which if used, we could run 2-3 other projects. So it was tough and challenging.
Intial year, the biggest hurdles were to find sponsers and a wig maker because collecting hair then became easy as the response was amazing. We started the project in college first where 250+gals came forward to donate their hair after which we extended the project all over chennai where common people also had the opportunity to donate their hair. By the end of the process we had collected a lot of hair. It weighed around 53 kg, enough hair to make 150+ wigs. Challenge was collecting funds, making wigs and providing them to cancer patients..
I did not reveal the names earlier as I was waiting for this question to come. So we had Partnered with a well known Saloon Green Trends who helped us collect hair from all over chennai in the initial year and in the second year we again partnered with them and executed this project not only in chennai but also in major cities of India which included delhi, bangalore, chennai, coimbatore, kolkata and other cities. People could just walk in to any green trends saloon in the said cities and donate their hair which we later collected.
Post which comes wig making.. which played a major role here.. we met George B Cherian Sir.. CEO of Raj Hair International .. who had been amazing to us.. he is a Rotarian so we were associated that way.. he loved the project and played role of a mentor to us.. guided us on how to go with the project.. we associated with his firm Raj Hair international for the best quality wigs.. quality really was important cos we dint want to harm the patients.. and wanted to boost their confidence level..
Raj Hair international were not only our wig makers but also one of our sponsers.. both the years.. and Green Trends were a major sponsor the second year..
Final stage is wigs reaching patients.. we associated with Adyar Cancer Institite.. to give away wigs to ppl who could otherwise not afford the wigs cos the market price is too high.. doctors from cancer institute also helped us with understanding what the patients go thru.. being starting the project we had spoken to doctors from cancer institute..
So four organisations/ institutes were associated here.. Rotaract club of Women’s Christian college.. Green Trends.. Raj Hair international and adyar cancer institute..
Apart from this.. we needed a lot of sponsers.. we collected small funds from alot of ppl and org .. major sponsers being Raj Hair International and Green Trends.. in the secind year we also had a Charity sponser.. Cherian Foundation.. they were kind enough to associate with us
The market price of these natural hair wigs ranges from 25,000 – 40,000 in the market.. and to provide them to underprivileged patients.. we are giving them away to cancer institite in Chennai adyar.. they are well known for treating underprivileged to the most privileged peple..
The cancer institute chooses only those who cannot afford the wigs otherwise… and provides them the wig.. as they know their patients and their backgrounds better…
Tangled is ongoing as it’s yet to be delivered to the patients. We have about 200 wigs ready now which will soon be delieverd… while in college.. my faculty and the college had supported immensely to continue the project. Because they loved what I was doing.. they were extremely happy about it.. and would allow me go on interviews or meetings during college hrs.. n I always made sure that does not affect my studies .. my friends would share their notes with me.. if I happen to miss classes..but continuing the same now while am working.. am finding it extremely difficult.. because this is my first job.. and both my jobs and Tangled are equally important.. am still trying to manage my time .. college and work are completely different.. I feel like I am responsible for a lot of things now.. which includes completion on my project…
Future plans are uncertain. But I wish to always do something good. Which will help others. As of now, I want to complete this year’s Tangled first and concentrate on my Job. Post college, I joined another Rotaract club to continue what I love doing..
I would feel a sense of accomplishment the day these wigs reach the cancer patients. We have already deliverd about 170 wigs. We still have another 250 to be deliverd. Hopefully in a month’s time ..
There are many others projects that am currently involved in. Not every project is big like tangled, but every small project has its own worth and value.
Meera Sharma Facebook Page
Tangled Facebook Page