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Spotlights

Joban Bal: Saving Lives

By Muriel D’Souza, 18 May, 2018 05:20 PM

    The young hero began advocating for blood donation right from his schooling days.

     
     
     
    Joban Bal knew he’d have to be older than 15 to donate blood. But he also knew that age wouldn’t matter when he’d be out there to make a difference. This young hero from Surrey began advocating for blood donation right from his schooling days at Tamanawis Secondary School. He spent countless hours volunteering for the Canadian Blood Services while also excelling academically. Today, he is the founder and president of One Blood For Life Foundation, a blood and stem cell donation organization.
     
    In his senior year, with the support of classmates, teachers, and local community members, Bal managed to set up the school’s first blood clinic signing up close to a 100 donors in a single day. “Donating blood is one of the simplest things a healthy person can do. Unfortunately, we don’t. I don’t consider myself doing great things. I do simple things. The results I see are great though,” shares the humble student, who is currently pursuing his Bachelor’s Degree in Science at UBC. 
     
    Bal had seen people’s lives change, merely because they were fortunate enough to find generous donors on time. He came to realize how precious life really is, and how much need 
    there is for blood and stem cell donors. He states some hard-to-believe facts, “One in two Canadians is eligible to donate blood, but only one in 60 step out to do so. The reason is, people haven’t been asked about it. We have received a tremendous response by just educating the youth. And once you see the impact you’ve made and the change you’ve caused, it’s hard to not do what you do.”
     
     
    When Bal began volunteering with the Canadian Blood Services, he saw children younger than him receiving life-saving stem transplants. He experienced the happiness of their families and watched their smiles grow wider. “I grew to appreciate the good health me and my family were blessed with. It was then that I wanted to be more involved. I was too young to donate. But if I could urge others, it would still be some help,” says Bal. 
     
    Noticing the need for donors, Bal and many other selfless young stars made it their life’s goal to educate people of how this small gesture can make a big difference. In September 2016, Bal founded the One Blood For Life Foundation (OBFLF) – a group of people who believe there is a difference to be made in the world of stem cell and blood donation. The team is united in one 
    blood towards one goal – life.
     
    The primary goal of OBFLF is to educate youth in high schools, universities, and colleges and create an atmosphere of altruism at a young age. “The more enjoyable we can make the entire volunteer experience and blood donation experience, the more youth in turn want to get involved in doing their part in helping saving lives,” adds the young founder, who considers himself lucky to have found his way to change the world early on in life.
     
     
    Bal’s family has been extremely supportive towards him all through his journey. Selfless service or ‘seva’ has been part of their culture right from the start. His fluency in Punjabi made it easier for him to put across his message to the huge Sikh community in Surrey. Usually it is the elders telling the younger generation what’s the right thing to do but this team of young and passionate change agents are definitely a pleasant surprise. “We should help those around us. If anyone’s mother, father, son or daughter is affected, they are all our family too. Just because it hasn’t happened to you or someone you know, doesn’t make it any less important,” says the 2017 Winner of Surrey’s Top 25 Under 25 Awards.
     
    Since its inception, OBFLF has grown tremendously and continues to spread its message to more and more communities.  “With a team of dedicated volunteer executives that manage operations for the hundreds of events and projects we have done, we now have over 380 volunteers across the Lower Mainland, Kelowna, and other parts of BC,” says Bal proudly. The organization has signed up and has had 2,300 blood donations through its collective efforts over the years along with signing up over 780 registrants for the Canadian stem cell and bone marrow network.
     
    The best things in life don’t cost a penny; neither does the joy of giving someone the gift of life. Donating blood or registering to become a stem cell donor will cost you nothing more than your time. So whenever you have some to spare, think about the lives you could save with it.
     
     

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