Neha Dheen and BEAT try to end anemia together

Senior+Neha+Dheen+and+sophomore+Divya+Subramaniam+celebrate+a+successful+book+drive+outside+school+on+Oct.+29.

Photo courtesy Neha Dheen

Senior Neha Dheen and sophomore Divya Subramaniam celebrate a successful book drive outside school on Oct. 29.

Senior Neha Dheen is far from your average high schooler. Apart from her love for singing and acting, Dheen has something else unique about her. Dheen is the vice-president of the non-profit organization, Bravely Ending Anemia Together (BEAT). 

As the Vice-president, Dheen and her co-founder, Keerthi Padmanabham, work together organizing events and planning meetings. Dheen also reaches out to external companies and organizations for potential partnerships, organizes fundraisers, and puts together the presentations for BEAT’s biweekly meetings. 

Founded in 2020, BEAT is focused on spreading awareness and ending anemia in underprivileged communities all around the world. Anemia is a condition that results when your hemoglobin count is low. This can result from numerous factors, but the most common is iron deficiency anemia, which is also the same kind of anemia that BEAT focuses on. “People with iron deficiency anemia often struggle with fatigue, dizziness, and even hair loss. These symptoms can seriously damage one’s way of life leading to not only physical issues but mental health issues as well,” Dheen said.

Iron deficiency anemia is quite prevalent among Indian women, and as an Indian woman herself, Dheen felt a personal connection and responsibility to eradicate anemia, especially in underprivileged areas. 

I myself didn’t know too much about the condition [at the time] so I was immediately intrigued because I thought the idea was unique but also impactful.”

— Neha Dheen

When her friend, Padmanabham, came to her with the idea to create a non-profit focused on iron deficiency anemia, Dheen was immediately interested. “I myself didn’t know too much about the condition [at the time] so I was immediately intrigued because I thought the idea was unique but also impactful,” Dheen said.

Ever since its foundation in August 2020, the organization has seen its fair share of projects and events. Dheen’s favorite has been the iron rich cereal drive. Dheen stood outside of a Giant urging people to donate cereal boxes to juvenile residents in need of a fulfilling breakfast. Plenty of people pitched in and even more donated money to Dheen’s organization. “My dad and I then drove to Pennsylvania to drop off the boxes and when we got to the center, the people receiving us were so welcoming and were absolutely shocked at the number of boxes we were able to raise. I can still picture their reactions,” Dheen said.

This experience hasn’t been completely perfect as the organization was founded during a global pandemic and has faced its share of struggles. Due to all the restrictions, BEAT struggled to find venues for fundraisers and host covid-safe events. “I think our team did an amazing job adapting to these obstacles. For example, we have had virtual yogathons, expert panels and concerts to raise money for our cause,” Dheen said. “I would say that working with BEAT is not only such an amazing thing to do for our community but also so rewarding. Making any change, even if it’s a small one, can really impact someone’s life for the better.”