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Rutgers club raises money for individuals with disabilities

<p>Courtesy of Tiana Jayanathan |&nbsp;RU Limbitless hosts Suture Workshops, where students can learn from professionals how to sew up patient injuries. The instructors bring in bananas for participants to practice on.</p>

Courtesy of Tiana Jayanathan | RU Limbitless hosts Suture Workshops, where students can learn from professionals how to sew up patient injuries. The instructors bring in bananas for participants to practice on.

RU Limbitless is a new student organization at Rutgers University that focuses on providing resources for individuals with disabilities around the world.

Tiana Jayanathan said she started RU Limbitless with her high school friend during her junior year at Rutgers. 

Both of the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences junior's parents emigrated from Sri Lanka during the outbreak of the country's civil war in 1983 and came to the United States to complete their residencies. Her parents’ backgrounds, along with her passion for community service and medicine, inspired her to start her own organization.

RU Limbitless is currently working with the Jaffna Jaipur Centre for Disability Rehabilitation (JJCDR) in Sri Lanka, an organization Jayanathan's grandmother helped found.

The organization's mission is to reach out to people who have lost limbs or have any other physical disabilities and to empower them with rehabilitation.

“JJCDR is the only centre providing prosthetic, orthotic devices and orthopedic services in the Jaffna peninsula for over two decades," according to their website.

“Most of the victims were injured in the land mines that were placed during the war. A lot of them have various medical conditions as well,” Jayanathan said.

The prosthetics that JJCDR uses only cost $30 to $40, while one in the U.S. would be thousands of dollars, she said.

RU Limbitless also started suture workshops at Rutgers. Her father, who is an emergency room physician, came in with two of his assistants and supplies donated by the hospital to help teach 30 students how to stitch wounds, Jayanathan said.

There will be another suture workshop in November, where she said 60 people will have the opportunity to learn how to sew wounds.

“We also want to give unique experiences to the students that you can’t really find anywhere else,” Jayanathan said.

All of the funds the organization receives goes to the International Medial Health Organization, which also specifically works with JJDCR and has a base in the United States, Jayanathan said.

But as a relatively new organization, Jayanathan described the struggles and obstacles that RU Limbitless experienced when it first began. 

The budget was extremely limited compared to other well-established student organizations at the University, and it was difficult fundraising and spreading the name of the organization, Jayanathan said.

“Our biggest struggle has been doing events that we can afford” Jayanathan said.

The organization did not have more than a few people at their first general interest meeting, she said.

But the club has been growing. Jayanathan said more and people are getting to know the cause that the organization supports.

She said the suture workshops are bringing attention to the club as well, with more than 400 people interested in them.

Jayanathan said the club is planning a trip to the Children’s Specialized Hospital, where members will interact with the youth patients and help decorate their rooms.

She is also planning to have her Biomedical Engineering Research professor to speak about finding medical research experience along with an orthopedic surgeon in the spring. The club may branch out and open up other clinics with JJDCR in Sri Lanka that provide vaccines, Jayanthan said.

When asked regarding the future of this organization, Jayanthan said she would like to have enough funds to be able to send passionate students to Sri Lanka directly to work in the JJCDR clinic and first-handedly see their impact.

Beyond helping the unfortunate in developing nations, Jayanathan also said she wanted to use this organization to help guide students, as she was lost as a first-year student.

“Right now they don’t really understand how much it is helping them,” Jayanathan said.

Samil Tabani is a Rutgers Business School first-year student. He is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.

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