UAE children sign up to share ‘protect mum’ message
DUBAI // Primary school pupils are working to spread breast cancer awareness across the UAE and beyond with a catchy slogan and a message to mothers that regular self-checks and screening can help to detect the disease early.
Children from across the UAE have joined the Protect Your Mom awareness campaign, a Facebook-led drive that targets the young and their mothers.
Nine-year-old Brent Adrial D’Souza, a Grade 5 student at the Kindergarten Starters in Dubai, is one such campaigner.
“Starting from my home, first I campaigned among the neighbourhood mums, then took my message to my school through speech, art and dance,” said Brent, who was seven when he joined.
Dubai resident Premi Mathew, who founded the PYM group in 2011 after breast cancer affected her family, appointed Brent as an ambassador.
Brent said he wanted to help spread the message to Africa and, earlier this year, he visited St Joseph of Tarbes School, in Embu county, Kenya, and spoke to 500 children.
“I distributed pink ribbons to all students from Grade 4 to 12 to tie them to their right hands,” Brent said. “Students felt responsible for their own mother’s health.”
Brother and sister Aaditya, 10, and Aditi Gandhi, 8, who were born and brought up in Dubai, are also members of PYM.
“Breast cancer is a bitter reality,” said Aaditya, who recalled visiting her great-grandmother in India and finding that she was suffering from the disease.
“Although she survived after surgery and chemotherapy, that phase is still a cause of misery to everyone in the family.
“So, when we heard about Protect Your Mom, we decided we had to be a part of it.”
The siblings travelled to Russia, where they talked to residents and tourists in Moscow, St Petersburg and Pereslavl-Zallesky about their campaign.
“Even though we encountered the issue of language in a few cases, it did not deter us from our goal,” said Aaditya. “We made them aware that the survival rate is as high as 95 per cent if breast cancer is detected early.
“We told them that a simple, cost-free, five-minute self-examination every month is all that it takes.”
Divyasree Sureshbabu, a 12-year-old Grade 7 pupil at Delhi Private School in Sharjah, has been a brand ambassador of PYM for three years, and her work has taken her to Chennai, in eastern India, where she held a presentation.
“When I hear about cancer, I get very scared because people talk about it in a very secret way,” she said.
“My parents motivated me to do social causes, so I became an ambassador for PYM and started spreading awareness.”
Sister Harishri Sureshbabu, a nine-year-old Grade 4 pupil, has been on board for three years.
“I have encouraged many people to talk to their mums, sisters and friends about early detection,” she said.”
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/protectyourmom.
Updated: October 1, 2016 04:00 AM