Bigger than a birthday

Approaching my 40th birthday I was actually very apprehensive. I had the usual life questions that tend to surround these milestones and I wanted to mark the occasion in a way that would have real meaning. I toyed with the idea of a weekend away or a party but these ideas just didn’t resonate.

I first read Dr Catherine Hamlin’s book when I was 21 and about to graduate from medical school. Catherine has been one of my greatest heroes ever since, and I have been so inspired by her generosity and courage.

So I decided to dedicate this birthday to something bigger than me…and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Two of my other great loves are fitness and community and I wanted to find a way to bring all these into my celebration.

In the lead up to my 40th birthday, I ran an online fundraiser asking my friends and colleagues to consider donating any money they might have spent on a present or a dinner to this cause. The response was overwhelming – I even received incredible support from friends and family I haven’t seen for years. And the best part? Every time you receive a donation you get a little birthday message pop up in your email. It honestly makes your heart burst and would brighten up every single day!

On the day of my birthday my friends and family gathered in our local park and ran – quite literally – our very own fundraiser. Some of us ran, while others strolled. People pushed prams and kids rode scooters and bikes! For every km that we covered I donated $10 to the Hamlin foundation…and in the end we covered combined total of 120km!

Afterwards, we had a food truck come to the park from a wonderful organisation called Crepes for Change. We all ate our well-earned crepes for breakfast, and all the proceeds went to a youth homeless shelter.

Perhaps the best moment was seeing my four year old daughter cheering as I crossed the finish line. It has been amazing to talk to her about the joy of giving and spurred many conversations about how fortunate she is and how she can reach out to people in need.

All in all, we raised just under $10,000 which completely exceeded anything I could have hoped for. Together we paid for 15 women to undergo fistula surgery at Hamlin Fistula Hospitals in Ethiopia.

Without a doubt, it was my favourite birthday so far and such a special way to start this next decade of my life!

Author: Dr Shobhana Nambiar – Hamlin Champion

Thank you so much to Shobhana for sharing your birthday celebrations with us at Hamlin! With this birthday you have gifted 15 women a life free of fistula!

If you’re looking for some inspiration about how you can get Hands on for Hamlin, or want to kickstart your own fundraising idea like Shobhana, you can join our Facebook group here.

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