Ganga Kumar is an IAS officer, a member of India’s elite bureaucratic service. His wife, Sneha Routray, is an architect.
Together, these two are trying to change the face of cancer awareness and diagnosis in India.
As a couple, they seem to always have been socially-focused. They started the Grameen Sneh Foundation in 2009, with the aim of increasing public engagement in issues such as health education, early childhood education, and art and culture. Ganga, a 2000 cadre officer, is posted in Bihar, and the Foundation began its work in Bihar, Odisha, and Delhi-NCR.
Things, however, took a distressing turn when Sneha was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014. She received timely chemotherapy and is now cancer-free, but this episode set the stage for a new focus to their social venture.
Several people living in rural parts of India do not know enough about cancer. This lack of awareness results in a number of cancer-related deaths that can be prevented very simply — through better information.
“I healed due to timely diagnosis and treatment. But there are several people who do not get to know in early states. There is need for a massive awareness campaign,” Sneha said to the Times of India.
Today, the Grameen Sneh Foundation, through its programme “Hausla” (or “courage”) works to disseminate cancer literacy in rural areas through workshops and seminars.
They also organise screening camps, where patients diagnosed with cancer are advised about their options, including details of private and government hospitals where they can get treatment. Sneha and Ganga spend most of their free time working with the foundation. It is funded through their personal earnings and donations from family and friends.
In 2016, the foundation plans to organise a beauty contest for cancer survivors.