SRINAGAR: Melvin Thomas always enjoyed travelling, but it wasn't until October 2021 that he felt compelled to take on a new challenge: walking from Kanyakumari to Kashmir.

Melvin, a filmmaker by profession, left his home behind to walk thousands of kilometres - on foot. Melvin has already touched hidden roads and made new acquaintances while travelling over 3500 kilometres through Delhi and Punjab all the way to Kashmir. He doesn't mind where he sleeps at night, and each morning, he wakes up with the sun to travel a few more kilometres.

After nightfall, he finds a hostel or an ashram or simply pitches his tent at a petrol pump.

Melvin left on his journey on October 9, 2021, from Kanyakumari to Kashmir covering more than 4,000 km on foot.

"I started my walk in October last year. It took me 118 days to reach Kashmir" said Melvin.

Melvin describes himself as an enthusiastic person and somebody who's very headstrong.

"If I make a decision, I will stick to it no matter what" he acknowledges.

"So far, the journey has been thrilling. It's a fresh narrative, a new task, and a new experience every day. Every night, I go to bed and wake up to a different view, something fresh." added Melvin.

Melvin began his walk in order to raise awareness about the importance of donating blood and saving lives.

"During the Pandemic, a lot of people died due to the unavailability of Blood. It was upsetting to see people die just because blood couldn't be arranged on time. All of this pushed me to take this step" Melvin explains.

Melvin, who arrived in Srinagar on February 7th, is currently intending to explore tourist attractions in the valley before heading back.

When asked about his journey, Melvin stated that people would stop him and ask him a lot of questions about his walk.

"Every day, around 50 people approach me and inquire about my journey. People frequently assume that I am selling something as I am always carrying a bag. However, a few others were motivated by my trip and began donating blood," Melvin added.

Despite its importance, access to adequate, timely, and safe blood continues to be a major public health concern in India.

According to the World Health Organization, atleast one percent of the population must donate blood in order for a country's basic blood requirement to be met. In India, just 0.84 percent of the population donates blood voluntarily, resulting in a blood shortage of nearly two million units.

Melvin further went on to say that the lack of blood could worsen the health condition of patients with comorbidities.

“Patients who test positive for COVID shortly after surgery require blood as well. People with Thalassaemia and Haemophilia, who require blood transfusions on a regular basis, have been particularly hard struck by the non-availability of Blood. People should come forward and donate blood regularly so that precious lives can be saved” Melvin stated.

Inspired by Melvin, scores of people started donating blood after getting to know about his journey.

"I get a lot of messages from people I met along the way. They send me pictures after donating blood and pledge to keep on donating blood in the future" Melvin said.

Melvin is currently in Srinagar and is leaving in a couple of days.

“I am planning to visit Gulmarg and then leave for Manali by cycle, and then leave for home” added Melvin, with a hope that more and more people donate blood and save lives.