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Sri Lankan student launches awareness program on kidney disease

Zainab Ifthikar, a 16-year-old student from Bangladesh International School, with Azim Thassim, ambassador of Sri Lanka, at a presentation on renal diseases held at the Sri Lankan Embassy in Riyadh. (AN photo)
RIYADH: A 16-year-old Sri Lankan student based in Riyadh has launched an awareness program on acute kidney diseases in parts of her native country.
Zainab Ifthikar, who attends the English section of Bangladesh International School, founded a charitable foundation dubbed MEI (Motivation Encouragement and Inspiration) in Colombo.
She told Arab News on Friday that she wants to create awareness among the Sri Lankan community in the Kingdom about the strong prevalence of renal diseases in the central part of Sri Lanka due to the drinking water in these areas.
Ifthikar said that some 13 percent of the population in these areas suffers from kidney diseases, and more than 90 percent of those are from farming villages.
Ifthikar, who has traveled widely in central Sri Lanka, said the disease is mostly prevalent in farming villages because farmers use agrochemicals for cultivation.
“The chemicals used for fertilization get mixed with the well water, and people consume that water,” she said.
The young activist said that she is interested in taking preventive as well as curative measures to address the issue. She called upon philanthropists to join her to achieve her goal of supplying water filters to these areas, which will enable residents to drink purified water.
She would also like to help dialysis patients who patronize hospitals for their weekly treatment.
Ifthikar, who also wrote the book “Poverty is not Passivity,” has personally witnessed the sufferings of the poor, and had made a genuine effort to bring about measures that could help those in need.
“I started feeling the plight of the poor when I was 13 years old,” Ifthikar told Arab News. She said that such a sincere feeling toward the poor prompted her to document her thoughts in a book.
She has since been working tirelessly to spread awareness on poverty, and how families in need could be helped.
“I have always had a profound love for three things in my life: One is my motherland Sri Lanka, the other is philanthropy, and the third is writing,” said Ifthikar.
“Many of us live a life of luxury, with cars, clothes, fast food and brands making a large part of it; whilst there are thousands of people out there who neither have a morsel a day to fill their stomachs, nor enough hope to fill their hearts.”
“Nowadays, poverty is not only hunger and the lack of shelter; it has also become inequality, injustice, illiteracy, violence, and ignorance. Poverty is the ultimate hub to all the complications that the world faces.”

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