The Little Things is a student-led charity aiming to improve healthcare in developing countries. By providing vital medical equipment to poorly funded and inadequately equipped hospitals, we hope to improve access to healthcare for innocent, vulnerable patients.
PRESS & PUBLICATIONS
How was The Little Things founded?
How do we raise funds?
How do we determine which healthcare
projects to fund?
The Little Things was founded by Rathaven Gunaratnarajah on the 1st August 2013. Rathaven was 20 years old at the time, and was studying as a third year biomedical science student at the University of Kent. He is currently a fourth year medical student at the University of Manchester.
In August 2013, Rathaven returned from a two-week trip to Tanzania. He spent one of those two weeks climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in aid of Meningitis Research Foundation and the other volunteering in St. Elizabeth Hospital, Arusha. During his placement at St. Elizabeth Hospital, Rathaven was dismayed by the stark reality of inadequate healthcare in a developing country. He saw a plethora of needless suffering during his week at St. Elizabeth Hospital. A lot of times Rathaven wished he could do something more than just observe. This feeling stuck with him, and so he returned to the UK determined to assist St Elizabeth Hospital.
He started researching exactly what was involved in starting up a charity and also made a rough schematic of the work he would have to put in over the following years. He decided that the first project would be to equip a desperately needed eye clinic for St Elizabeth Hospital, at an estimated cost of £25,000. He planned to raise the funds for this project by organising exhilarating, adventurous fundraising events for university students, such as skydiving and mountain trekking.
Rathaven worked tirelessly to bring his dreams to life through The Little Things. On the 22nd May 2015, The Little Things was registered with The Charity Commission and the charity began its journey to improve healthcare in developing countries.
Rathaven’s passion for improving healthcare in developing countries inspired countless fellow students to sympathise with the cause, and contribute their time and effort voluntarily. Rathaven assembled a team of students to whom he could delegate tasks and the charity had established a presence at a number of universities across the UK. These student volunteers have been the unsung heroes of the charity, and The Little Things will always be grateful and appreciative of their efforts.
The Little Things does not just appeal to university students for funding. The charity also relies on grants and support from schools and also on support from the local community.
Since the charity's inception, The Little Things has managed to successfully complete three healthcare projects:
In July 2015, the first project was completed - funding an eye clinic in Arusha, Tanzania. Surgical and diagnostic equipment necessary for the successful running of an eye clinic were installed in St. Elizabeth Hospital, Arusha. Within days of the equipment being installed, patients that had been blind for years were brought in for surgery that restored their sight.
Following the completion of the first project, The Little Things worked swiftly to ensure that in July 2016, they managed to complete their second project - equipping a premature baby clinic in Kilinochchi, Sri Lanka.
In July 2017, the charity completed their third healthcare project by providing vital medical equipment for two hospitals within the Northern Province of Sri Lanka - Base Hospital Point Pedro and Base Hospital Tellippalai. These projects have had a huge impact on the local population and enable access to unprecedented levels of healthcare.
The charity is currently aiming to complete its fourth healthcare project in the summer of 2018. Funds are being raised to support Tamakoshi Co-operative Hospital, Manthali. This hospital only offers basic medical services, but is in need of medical equipment to provide specialist cardiology and gastroenterology services to the community. The Little Things will enable this by raising £50,000 and purchasing an upper GI endoscope and echocardiogram, along with other medical equipment, for this hospital in Nepal.
We appeal to university students for the majority of the funds that are raised, by organising exhilarating fundraising events such as skydiving, mountain treks, sponsored runs and bucket collections for university students to partake in.
Skydiving has been our main approach to raising funds since the birth of The Little Things. We run the skydiving event as an annual fundraiser, with multiple days dedicated to our fundraisers leaping from planes all across the country.
In 2015, we led groups of students from the University of Kent and UCL on a trek of Mt. Snowdon in Wales.
In August 2016, we hosted our first international fundraising event - a trek of Machu Picchu in Peru. We took a group of student fundraisers to Peru and spent an incredible 5 days climbing through the mountains, bathing in hot springs, zip lining through the Andes and sleeping by campfires. We repeated this trek of Machu Picchu in September 2017.
We have also hosted an 18-hour football match in London and a 5km sponsored run in Canterbury. Bucket collections are a successful mode of fundraising, and we have days where student volunteers head into city or town centres and collect funds.
For each fundraising event, an ‘Information Evening’ is hosted at universities across the UK, where the respective Student Ambassador gives a presentation on The Little Things and explains the details of the fundraising event. Interested students then sign up to the event and are supported by The Little Things throughout their fundraising journey. We provide each student that signs up with a charity T-shirt, collection bucket, collection tin and information pack.
The fundraising model is similar with all of our university fundraising events, where the student is given a minimum fundraising target and that target covers the student’s costs of partaking in the event, and also includes a sizeable donation to The Little Things.
We strive to maintain ethical fundraising practices, as we provide full support to our fundraisers and work alongside university and Charity Commission guidelines with regards to fundraising. We provide a briefing pack to all our fundraisers including all relevant information.
In the academic year of 2016/17, we have attempted to widen our reach by focusing more on appealing for grants and support from schools and also for support from the local community.
In January 2017, we hosted a New Year’s Ball, where approximately 150 guests attended and helped to raise nearly £10,000 towards our healthcare projects. We successfully sourced sponsors to cover the costs of organising the Ball.
In May 2017, we received a grant from Mazars LLP for £12,000. Throughout the academic year of 2016/2017, members of The Little Things were tasked with applying for corporate sponsorship. In addition to this significant donation from Mazars LLP, we have received a donation from TD bank for £500. In the future, The Little Things will dedicate more time to appealing for donations from large corporations.
Some of the student volunteers that have joined The Little Things are not just university students, but also secondary school students. The secondary school students help with raising awareness of our cause at primary and secondary schools across the UK. These student volunteers arrange fundraising activities at the schools such as non-uniform days, bake sales and bazaars.
The Little Things focusses specifically on hospitals that are under-funded and poorly equipped, and we liaise with the hospitals to provide vital medical equipment needed by the hospital to cater to the needs of the local population. We provide support by purchasing medical equipment and overseeing the installation of these equipment in the hospital.
Determining where to conduct the project initially depends on researching any affiliation a volunteer from The Little Things may have to a hospital in a developing country. For example, for our first healthcare project in Tanzania, we decided to conduct the project for St. Elizabeth Hospital because that is the hospital that inspired Rathaven to start up The Little Things. For the second and third healthcare projects, we decided to equip hospitals in Sri Lanka as this is Rathaven’s motherland, and he has relatives that work in hospitals within the Northern Province of Sri Lanka and these relatives would often describe the need for vital medical equipment. For both projects, Rathaven visited the respective hospitals in Sri Lanka and discussed the needs of the people with the hospital directors. For the fourth healthcare project, which will be completed in the summer of 2018, Professor Satyan Rajbhandari who is a Consultant Physician in Diabetes & Endocrinology at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, visited Nepal and on behalf of The Little Things assessed three hospitals in and around Kathmandu that required urgent medical aid. Professor Rajbhandari wrote a detailed report on the three hospitals that he assessed, and gave his recommendation on which hospital The Little Things should support in 2018.
Once the location of the project has been decided, The Little Things liaises with the hospital director and members of the healthcare team to construct a list of the most urgently needed medical equipment. The list is written in order of priority, and irrespective of budget. The Little Things then begins to raise funds for the project, with the aim being to raise as much money as possible before June/July. The funds raised are then used to strategically purchase as much of the medical equipment as possible.
The relevant medical equipment are purchased from suppliers and installed at the chosen hospital. Rathaven visits the country during this time, to oversee the installation of the equipment and film a brief documentary to showcase the completion of the project.
We aim to complete each chosen project within a one year time-frame.