Sunday, November 13, 2011

As Promised...

On our very first day of picking up equipments in the Spring of 2011, the weather wasn't very favorable. It was raining continuously and to top it off, Lutful was battling the flu! Despite the weather conditions and Lutful's temperature, we managed to collect a few equipments, which by the way were in excellent condition!! The success of the first pickup gave us the momentum needed to continue collecting equipment. We ended up collecting over 20 items (not including the items which are pledged) for our first shipment overseas!! 
With the help of my wonderful family, the Camelia Institute was able to sanitize and package the equipment collected. We also ensured that the items were safe and usable by performing small tests. Of the equipment collected, we only had to discard a pair of crutches which were unstable and faulty. After sanitizing the equipment, we sorted and packaged the items to ensure the items would arrive together, not getting lost in transit. Once neatly packaged, our friends from Cibaeno Shipping came to our rescue! Not only have they provided the Camelia Institute with important resources, they also provided us a discount. (If you're reading this Cibaeno Shipping, thank you!)
Items arrived in the Dominican Republic a few weeks later, where family members accepted the equipment on my behalf. I (Jennifer) then flew in to the Dominican Republic on a quest to find a nursing home which NEEDED the equipment the Camelia Institute had in its possession. Although things hadn't gone according to plan thanks to Delta sending my luggage to a different state plus 2 additional countries, I eventually received my luggage (not as shipped, but c'est la vie) and was able to go out and explore the various nursing homes in the Dominican Republic. We searched, and eventually found a nursing home that seemed to be a perfect fit for the Camelia Institute. We met the viejitas at the home, and spoke with various staff members. We questioned why a nursing home would be on the third floor of a building with no elevators. We asked who was paying for the viejitas to live there. We asked questions upon questions to ensure we would be giving the donations to the RIGHT organization. We felt we found the right fit, and decided this organization would benefit from the items the Camelia Institute collected...

We delivered the equipment on August 7th! (One of the BEST days of my life).  We prepared goodie bags  for the residents in St. Vicente nursing home in addition to the 'real' donations, the medical equipment. Residents were extremely happy with our presence (and presents too!).  We had a total of 6 volunteers (myself included) for delivery. Overall- GREAT experience!

I'd like to note that not all equipment was donated at once to the nursing home. We donated the bulk of equipment collected, not all of the equipment since we wanted to ensure our equipment wasn't being  misused or end up in black markets. 

Now that we've completed our first project, we are looking forward to what's to come for the Camelia Institute!  Excited to plan and execute our next trip to help improve the quality of life of our seniors!
UNTIL next time!!!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

My inspiration…

Hello everyone, this is my first time writing a blog. Although I am the Vice President of Camelia Institute, I prefer to remain in the background, which is the reason I haven’t been blogging as much as my partner Jennifer.

Having grown up in a very close Bengali family, I learned how important grandparents could be. My grandmother, or as I referred to her as my Nanu, was an amazing woman who loved me and cared for me since the day I was born. My grandfather took me everywhere and bought me anything that I wanted. I guess you could say they spoiled me. Nanu lived with my family and I for many years, and I watched her go from a woman who could walk for miles to someone who could barely walk at all. I loved spending time with her, and tried to help as much as I could because I knew that no matter what, I could never really be able to repay her for always taking care of me.

My grandparents were the source of my inspiration for this project. They showed me the meaning of love and taught me how important the elderly is to our society. If it were not for them I would not be the person I am today. Although Nanu is no longer here, she remains in my heart and is my source of motivation to help those in need. There are too many elderly out there who are living in impoverished areas and are unable to get proper treatment due to their immobility. Through the Camelia Institute, I am trying to do my part to increase elderly awareness and provide them with a better quality of life. Hopefully the equipment provided by us will help someone’s grandparent smile again.

I will try my best to post more blogs, even though I intend to remain in the background.

- Lutful Khan

Don't be mad, be GLAD!

Despite the whirlwind of madness, I have to express my gratitude for those of you who have shown the Camelia Institute your support. We are a very small organization (certainly with hopes of expansion) and can use all of the support we can get, even if it is a simple "like" on facebook.

If you're out there reading this and haven't yet liked us on facebook, please take the opportunity to help us in this small way. You can click "like" on this web address:  THANKS in advance!

Also, I have arranged and organized the pictures/videos from the summer time. Although the footage isn't what I envisioned, I am still extremely proud to share with you all that WE worked on!  This blog should be up by the end of the week, I give my word!

P.S. Thanks to all of the WONDERFUL friends and family of the Camelia Institute. In LESS than 24 hours, we have received over 50 likes on facebook! THANK YOU, thank you, THANK YOU!!!!


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Hola, Buen Dia!

Sooooo, we're presently looking into fiscal sponsors. We'll be attending an event at the Foundation Center to understand the process better. We are also starting to plan a fundraising activity for the Spring.

Word for the day: strategy!

Until next time!

P.S. We are also working on our UPDATE from the summer. Stay tuned!!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Thank you for your Patience!

So the good news is I am feeling better-thank goodness for antibiotics! Although I have been extremely busy these past couple of days, we know many of you are patiently waiting for us to upload some pictures. We thank you kindly for your patience :)

For the purposes of this post, I will simply be uploading pictures. Hopefully by mid September when the madness on my end dies down, I will be able to walk you through this incredible experience! Who knows, maybe I'll squeeze some time in between now and then?

Please stay on the look out for more updates! We have a lot of things planned, and would really appreciate your help and contribution!

There may not be a lot of money in this organization, but one thing I can tell you is there is A LOT of love! The viejitas (said with love) are clean and filled with attention. I am SO glad we found this organization who make something out of nothing by simply caring for their patients. 

The Camelia Institute hopes to replicate this pilot project in other areas, there WILL be more to come! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What's Taking SOOOOO long?!

I know it is taking a VERY llooooonnnnngggggg time for an updated post illustrating all of the exciting things that took place on 'D' Day (Donation Day :) Sorry!!!!

 I am presently recovering from a stomach virus which has kept me from posting all of the amazing pictures we took that day! As soon as I am back to normal, and as soon as I have the opportunity to catch up on some things I've been pushing aside, I will make the next post my main priority.

Until next time!!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Delivery Day

Members of the Camelia Institute with the Director of the nursing home, Fatima.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Dreams DO come true :)

Equipment has been delivered to the nursing home!!!!

Pictures and details to follow!!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

We found a nursing home!!!

We will be donating the equipment to a new nursing home in St. Vincente De Paul. This nursing home is perfect for many reasons.
Esperanza, one of the residents of the home, was serenading us with her sweet voice. 

  1. St. Vicente De Paul is located in Los Minas Sur, a poor area in the Dominican Republic. Poverty is visible throughout. Garbage thrown throughout the streets, houses run down, beggars all over the streets (common in the DR). 
  2. St. Vicente De Paul nursing home is presently located on the third floor of the Catholic School. The nursing home is only temporarily located there while a new location is being built (slow process given the low resources). 
  3. Because the area is predominately Catholic, and locals are avid church goers this nursing home also gives equipment to those in need. In other words, locals who do not have the resources to pay for medical equipment ask the church for help. This is great news for the Camelia Institute in that we will be able to donate to more people than anticipated-- the seniors and community members.  
We anticipate the actual donations to occur on Thursday, when a few family members will be in town. Because the organization is named after my grandmother Camelia, many want to be a part of the first donations a day before her 5th anniversary.

One of the rusted wheelchairs presently at St. Vicente De Paul. 

Until next time!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Raining Cats and Dogs

It has been raining continuously since I landed in the DR. Even though I'm not made of sugar and won't melt, I really hope the rain stops. It will help us ask around for different centers, and actually enable us to be able to visit different nursing homes/ community centers.

Until next time <3 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Greetings from DR!

Greetings from the Dominican Republic!!

Quick update:

  • Baggage was lost for 3 days, traveled more than I did (Atlanta, Mexico, Panama)... thanks, Delta? First couple of days was spent on the phone with Delta, travelling to and from the airport, tracking baggage status, etc. This put me completely off my game, pushing back a few things...
  • We have sorted and cleaned the equipment, and are presently looking for a nursing home with a visible need of the equipment. We've seen some nursing homes which fare better than others, we want to be sure the ones we donate have an immediate need for the equipment. AKA drastic improvement to their quality of life 
  • The Camelia Institute originally wanted to donate equipment to Dajabon, a province boarding Haiti. Though things in our plan have changed given the increasing black market in the area, my family and I went to the area with a few walkers and canes to donate to elders. Unfortunately, we were only able to donate one cane to an elder man, given the deplorable conditions in the area. More than medical equipment, the area needs a clinic, doctors, and equipment. This will enable seniors to get the care they deserve, and help seniors and their families have a higher quality of life. (Future project?)
To Be Continued...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


I've been slacking with the pictures, my apologies on that. Here is a picture of some of the goodies we are giving out to our viejitos. 

Yes, there ARE sweets. Who doesn't love sweets? (We also purchased sugar free candies for our Diabetic friends).

Progress "Report"

Equipment is in the Dominican Republic!!! You know what that means, right? We are one step closer to distributing these items to seniors in need.

Next stop: Going to the Dominican Republic to begin the search for a nursing home in actual need. Having visited the Dominican Republic annually, I have seen firsthand how certain items end up being sold into the black market. This is a risk I'd like to reduce as much as possible. By visiting multiple nursing homes in impoverished areas of the Dominican Republic, we will be able to determine whether our equipment will get proper usage. We will also be able to determine which nursing homes will benefit from the equipment collected by the Camelia Institute for the future.

I'm super excited and happy to see the project come to fruition. I won't lie though, I am also a bit anxious and nervous since this is a new experience for us.

Please keep us in your thoughts & prayers and send positive energies our way!


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Promise is a Promise! -- Updates :)

 Have you ever had sooo much to say, yet when putting your thoughts on paper you don't know where to start? Yeah, that's certainly us at the moment... I guess I should start off by saying we are incredibly EXCITED and happy to finally make our dream one step closer to reality!  We thank EVERY single person involved in this process, we could not do this without you! Although there are still a few steps involved in the delivery of the medical equipment to seniors in the Dominican Republic, we are still elated that things are in motion and about 60% complete! I know I've mentioned it more than once already but I really cannot contain my happiness! We cannot wait to see the smiles of our viejitos when receiving the equipment & goodies we will have for them.

Okay okay, enough about the excitement we are feeling (for now at least ). Time to let you know what we have been up to. We made this promise to you in the past, a promise is a promise! 

What we've been up to:
  • Cibaeno Shipping- I know I've mentioned them in our previous post, but they are worth mentioning again! From the first time the Camelia Institute has reached out to Cibaeno Shipping, they have offered us incredible advice and service! They have helped us understand the different requirements and regulations involved in shipping items to the Dominican Republic. Thanks again Cibaeno Shipping, in particular Ana M.!
  • Equipment pickups- You probably don't know that our very first donated equipments were dropped off- thank you Rafael C.! The remaining equipment was picked up in shifts by Lutful, my wonderful parents Eugenio & Milagros, and myself. Equipment was collected primarily from Brooklyn, though we did venture into the Bronx and Queens. We now have 21 medical equipment thanks to all of your donations and help!!! A special thanks to Jessica R., Sara Y., and Diana for your kind donations.Our inventory now includes walkers, canes, shower chairs, crutches, and commodes. We also have a wheel chair :)
    • Although we picked up equipment from multiple locations, we were unable to collect all of the pledged items for our summer 2011 shipment. Thank you Liz C., Natalia R. and Mario R. for your pledges- please hold on to the equipment for the next round.    
  • Sanitizing equipment- Once the equipments were picked up, we inspected the items once more to ensure safety. We tested the equipment ourselves, ensuring the equipment functioned properly without any problems. Almost all of the equipment we procured passed the test! We did have to discard one item which was not in the best condition or shape. After our second inspection, we sanitized the equipment with hot water and detergent. (We intend on repeating this process in the Dominican Republic once the items are shipped).
  • Packaging equipment- Our equipment was nicely packaged by my dad and myself (Lutful couldn't be there because of his summer course). We used large plastic bags to cover the equipment, and labeled each package with our Logo and contact information. 
    • You can see pictures here: 
  • Equipment pick up- The boys from Cibaeno Shipping were super helpful when they picked up our equipment. They gave us a great price too! If you ever want to ship anything to the Dominican Republic, I highly recommend their service!  Our equipment will arrive in the Dominican Republic in mid July, can't wait to donate them to our viejitos!
    • (pictures of the pick-up to follow)
  • Purchasing items for goodie bags- Aside from donating medical equipment to a nursing home in the DR, we want to give our seniors a special surprise. We have already purchased some items that will be handy for everyday use such as hand sanitizer, lotions, tooth brushes, & reading glasses. We have also purchased some sweets to put into the bags, to sweeten their lives ;) We are considering purchasing an item which can be used continuously, such as tee shirt's, night gowns, or even bed sheets but that depends on how much it will cost. If we can't afford it this year, we've always got next year, right?  
  • Website went live- If you haven't had a chance to look at our website, I HIGHLY encourage you to have a look. Lutful did an incredible job! Don't you just love the banner? The banner happens to be my personal favorite! 
Until next time! 

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011

    To the Rescue of Octogenerians-- Created 2/16

    This week hasn't been the greatest, news headlines have been plagued with attacks on the elderly. Criminals are preying on our old, and in many cases viciously attacking them. They prey on the old because of their weakness and vulnerability (I say this with respect to my elders). It is easier to pick on someone who is unable to defend themselves as well as they would have in their earlier years, instead of attacking someone of similar age & stature.

     In addition to their frail appearance, seniors are often alone and unprotected. For this reason, I ask that we all give a little of our time to the seniors in our lives so that they feel accompanied and protected. I am not asking for constant companionship, instead I am asking that we all devote a few minutes to call someone who is by themselves, ensuring their wellbeing. Or at the very least, help your family member, friend or neighbor cross the street or bring their groceries to their home. Why not go the extra mile and look into senior day programs in which our viejitos can socialize?

    Let us rescue our elders from criminals, ensuring their protection. If we all respect the seniors in our lives, we can teach the younger generations to follow our foot steps. Let us stand up for the geriatric population, they stood up for us at one point in time...


    P.S. Octogenerians: someone who is in their eighties.

    Monday, June 13, 2011

    Quick Update

    Although there is A LOT to share, I promise I'll let you know what's been happening shortly! The picture above illustrates the equipment we have PACKAGED and almost ready to ship! Hip hip hooray!!

    I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Jessica R. and Sara Y. for their donations! We are SO incredibly fortunate to have people like you in the world!

    Until next time! 

    P.S. Lutful Khan, my partner on this project is such a trooper! He helped with pick-ups despite being extremely ill. A special thank you to you!

    Thursday, June 9, 2011

    I love this song!


    It is almost that time to ship our donated equipment to the Dominican Republic!! We will be collecting equipment this weekend (exciting!!!). Then we will be ready to rock and roll-- well not really rock and roll, but you get my drift... My partner and I are crossing our fingers for this pilot project to be a success. Success to us means putting a smile on many of our viejitos (sweet way of saying senior's) faces. I can't wait!!

    On another note: I finished talking to someone very helpful from Cibaeno Shipping Express, Ana. Ana was able to help me understand the process of shipping items over to the Dominican Republic, and helped me understand the process of who gets exonerated for taxes-- and how. (If you're reading this, thank you!) My dream is that we one day become large enough where we WILL need our own shipment container to send equipment overseas. It's okay though, "small steps to make BIG strides."

    Please let me know if you have any questions about the process. As my partner and I have received a lot of information throughout this experience, we'd wish to pay it forward.

    Have a GREAT day! :)
    P.S. I have to update the pictures I have of our very first donation, but I will wait until after our weekend pickups to upload.

    Tuesday, May 3, 2011

    Sorting some things

    In addition to collecting used medical equipment, we are also accepting monetary donations. We are looking into Raiser's Edge to accept online donations for friends and families who would like to donate from the comfort of their homes.

    We are also looking into fiscal sponsorship, which will make your donations tax exempt ;)

    Stay tuned!

    Tuesday, April 26, 2011

    Small Steps, to make BIG strides!

    Many of you have wondered what has taken us so long to publish our website and make this blog visible to friends and family. The truth is, Lutful and I don't want to rush things for the sake of BEING. We want to build a FOUNDATION strong enough that the Camelia Institute can overcome unforeseen obstacles. We want our foundation to be strong enough to withstand our absence-- because it isn't about us, it is about helping our impoverished elderly worldwide.

    For those of you who would like us to be fully functional NOW, we thank you for your encouragement and well wishes! We would LOVE to be able to distribute the equipment today, if we could-- but there are various steps we have to take to ensure a successful project. The Camelia Institute doesn't want to stop in the Dominican Republic, we want to help as many impoverished countries as we can (with the right resources, of course).


    Thank you for taking the time to read this, we look forward in reading your comments!

    Thursday, April 21, 2011

    Some Donations!

    We are on a roll! Three times in one week?! We're certainly trying to make up for lost time :) We'd like to keep you as involved as possible, or at the very least let you understand what we are working on.

    • Since our pilot project will take place in the Dominican Republic, we spoke with the Consulate of the Dominican Republic to see if they would be willing to help with our project. The good news is: they didn't shut us down! The bad news: well, there isn't really any bad news.... We were asked to write a letter to the Consul explaining who we are, what we want to accomplish in the DR and most importantly, what we'd like their help with. We will be working on the letter, and will keep you abreast on how things go.
    • Jahangir K. Khan has pledged to donate customized tee shirts for the Camelia Institute. At present, we have 4 custom tee shirts, 4 hats and 2 tote bags. These personalized items were purchased by Lutful and Jennifer to give the organization an identity. Aside from that, because we are not an established nonprofit, and don't yet have a fiscal sponsor (we're working on it), we want to have legitimacy when asking for donations and distributing the donations. Mr. Khan- THANK YOU! 

    Okay, I think that's it for now. Until next time! 

    Wednesday, April 20, 2011

    We're on a roll ! ! !

    Aside from working on the Camelia Institute, I had the pleasure of attending an S.L.E. Lupus Foundation support group with Pi Gluten Free yesterday. It was such an inspiration to be in the same room with all of these INCREDIBLE women and men. I lack words to describe how this meeting made me feel, however I will surely try.

    Although I do not have Lupus or any autoimmune disease, I am so proud of the strength exuded by those who live with these illnesses. Not only are these women and men living with illnesses which are NOT visible to the world, they are constantly hearing their illness is in their heads. MANY autoimmune illnesses go unnoticed, undiagnosed and unfortunately, untreated for years. More advocacy needs to be done to get people the help they need, WHEN they need it. More advocacy needs to occur to have doctors understand that just because they CAN'T see an illness, does not mean it isn't there.

    Let's stop ostracizing others because they're different. Let's stop telling people they are okay because they get themselves together in the morning even though inside, their world is collapsing. Let's stop telling people an illness is in their head, when there is so much more you can do to help them.

    Let's start LISTENING, let's start PAYING ATTENTION, let's start CARING.


    P.S.- Check out for more information on a company which offers delicious foods, free of gluten, AND a company with an INCREDIBLE social mission!

    Monday, April 18, 2011

    What's going on?

    Lutful and I are in the process of updating our website: . This needs to happen before we can effectively spread the word about our organization, especially when using social networking sites to inform our family, friends, and the community that we are in operation and most importantly: WE EXIST.

    Aside from revamping our existing website (there's been some tweaking which NEEDS to occur before publishing), we have asked some family members and friends for the donation of any medical equipment they did not need. There have been many pledges, let's cross our fingers and hope they become actual donors! Because these pledges are coming from different areas in NYC, Lutful and I will be developing a strategy on how to effectively and efficiently pick up the equipment from each location. ANY IDEAS?  (Down the road, we intend on having drop off locations in various neighborhoods for our donors to conveniently drop off their unwanted equipment).

    Until next time! Sooner than later, we hope :)


    Thursday, April 7, 2011

    Snail pace

    We get it... we are presently operating at snails pace. What's important, though: WE ARE OPERATING! 

    We will try our best to keep the ball rolling with this blog. We will continue making progress with the shipment. Right now networking is EXTREMELY important, wish us luck! 


    Tuesday, February 15, 2011


    We received our  prize money of $250 and will be making our FIRST shipment of non-intrusive medical equipment to the Dominican Republic this summer!
    • This means that at least 20 seniors will receive a wheel chair, walker, cane, or shower chair.
    • This also means that an additional 20 seniors (hopefully more) will receive eye glasses, diapers, towels, and  toiletries.
    We are presently collecting medical equipment  from established partners. We are also incredibly lucky to have the support of our family and friends. The Camelia Institue would like to give thanks to Eugenio Hernandez and Rafael Cabral for our first donations!

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011

    Shame on us!

    It has been a brutal winter here in the East Coast. We have been plagued with continuous snow since the end of 2010. Still, shame on us for not posting on important matters related to the aging community.

    Thought for the day...

    As I sat in a crowded NYC train, I noticed a very frail elderly man who was certainly no younger than 80. Although I gave him my seat, as any healthy person should, for a moment I hesitated. This hesitation has left me disappointed, and lost in thought.

    I guess, some days we are more selfish than others. Today was my day...

    Tuesday, January 4, 2011

    “although weathered, although tested by dementia, people are beautiful”

    Giving Alzheimer’s Patients Their Way, Even Chocolate

    After reading this article on the New York Times, I thought I'd be doing us all a service by sharing!  Beatitudes nursing home is truly an inspiration. Instead of confining patients who suffer from dementia, Beatitudes allows patients to be free (in more ways than one). Where most nursing homes and senior care facilities offer patients healthful-tasteless foods, Beatitudes spoils patients with chocolates and round the clock food.

    Although the option of chocolate and round the clock food is important, it is not the reason I have become enamored with Beatitudes. My love for this institution deals primarily with DIGNITY. This institution allows for patients to keep their dignity, despite their state of mind. Not only do patients eat what they please, they also receive the attention of caregivers one-on-one.

    Where other institutions over-medicate, use diapers (even for 'able'-minded individuals), and pay little attention to the needs of residents; Beatitudes is the complete opposite. Beatitudes medicates with chocolate, helps residents maintain independence by allowing them to use toilets, as well as using low cushioned wheelchairs and low guard rails to enable patients to get up when they please. Although this may sound like a safety concern for some, the independence is important when increasing a patients quality of life.

    More institutions should follow suite, especially as the aged population continually rises. (Let us not forget about the baby-boomers). The happier our seniors are presently, the better it will be when it is our turn.   

    If I ever end up with dementia PLEASE send me to Beatitudes, it's my only wish ;)