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Consul Jitender Singh Negi cutting hair of three-year-old Taksh Jain who donated his hair along with the other boys to cancer patient Nadiera Senali Veedu, at the Indian Consulate in Dubai. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: From a three-year-old to teens, around 20 Indian expatriate boys in the UAE participated in a rare hair donation drive in Dubai on Tuesday, which, the organisers say, was a first-of-its-kind initiative.

The tiny tots and the tall teens travelled from different emirates across the country to the Indian Consulate in Dubai to attend the event organised by the Hair for Hope Foundation-India.

While some are still growing their hair for donation, most of the boys, who were present, had already chopped off their manes and were proudly displaying them.

Five of them handed over their ponytails directly to Nadiera Senali Veedu, a cancer patient. “Donors in India already have the option of donating directly to a patient. But this is the first time it is happening here,” said Premi Mathew, the founder of the Hair for Hope Foundation-India and the Protect Your Mom campaign. Mathew himself is also a cancer survivor.

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Nadiera Senali Veedu with the boys who participated in the hair donation drive. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Live hair-cutting session

Dr Aman Puri, the Consul-General of India in Dubai, honoured the boys, who donated their locks, while Consuls Tadu Mamu and Jitender Singh Negi took part in a live hair-cutting session of three-year-old boy Taksh Jain.

Message with a difference

Nadiera, 36, whose inspiring story of battling cancer twice — once while she was pregnant — was published in Gulf News on Sunday. She said she was happy to be a part of the event to appreciate the boys’ efforts. “This is the first event where I am seeing boys are growing their hair to donate them to those in need. So, I wanted to be a part of it and appreciate this initiative.”

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Three-year-old Taksh Jain with Dr Aman Puri, Indian Consul-General in Dubai, at the hair donation drive. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Using a wig

Though she would be making a wig with the hair donated to her, she said she was still confused about the concept. “I want to tell all the cancer patients that your confidence is not just lying in those 12 inches of your hair, but, in my case, I am going to use this wig when my mummy is around ... just to keep her happy as I grew up with very healthy, dense hair. She is not used to seeing my hair fall like this.”

Youngest male donor

Mathew said Taksh is probably the youngest male donor in the world to donate 16 inches of his hair — four inches more than the required 12 inches. His mother Neha Jain said, Taksh wanted to donate his hair since his elder sister Mishika had donated 21 inches of hair after watching the Bollywood movie ‘Pa’, in which actor Amitabh Bachchan plays the role of a boy without hair due to a rare genetic condition.

Another donor, Mahadev Nair, seven, donated his hair for the second time. He said he had decided to grow his hair after seeing the video of a child with cancer not having hair. His mother Anupama Pillai said she and her two sons had earlier grown their hair and then shaved their heads for donating in 2017.

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Nadiera Senali Veedu (centre), who is fighting cancer for the second time, receives hair from the boys who donated. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Bullying and oppositions

Overcoming bullying and comments like “you look like a girl” were part of the journey that Zenish Mavani, who actually had a cancer victim in his family, went through. “Don’t let your hair go to waste when it can make someone smile and give the confidence to live,” is his message, he said.

Nikita, his mother, who has donated twice since she lost her mother three years ago to breast cancer, said: “We chose to donate because we know how low the morale of a cancer patient can be when he or she loses hair during chemotherapy. It’s awful. For a person, especially for a woman, hair is closely linked with self-esteem.”

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Azad Anantha Sherif, 17, who came all the way from Abu Dhabi, said he also had to face some opposition from his school in growing hair. “It is not allowed for boys to grow hair in many schools here. But, I think schools should give some exemption if the boy students really want to donate their hair. It is not easy for us to maintain it. But, the cause is above all that,” he said.