"Our heart breaks into a million pieces every time we read a youth has died due to vaping"
Renee Mendonca and her twin sister Rhea Mendonca are CEO of an organization "Wings Of Hope" which focuses on stopping vaping and making this world a healthy Vape-Free world. The twins started this organization when they were just 10 years old. They held their first protest in September 2018 in front of a UN building. They have won 'the International UN Youth Service Award' honoring everyday young heroes for outstanding contribution to the global community for vaping addicts.
Why and How they Started:
Renee and Rhea started Wings Of Hope at the age of 10. The death of their beloved grandpa due to 'pulmonary fibrosis' who was their best friend confidante and a role model crumbled their lives. They could not afford a lung transplant nor oxygen ventilator so the two twins watched him "helplessly gasping for breath and die right before their eyes." He was a chain smoker from age 14.
From that day onwards they vowed to save young lives caught in the web of addictions drugs, smoking and vaping. This is how Wings of Hope was born.
"When we were in India instead of playing with our toys or watching television, every Sunday we used to visit the juvenile home and home for destitutes and orphans, and give them inspirational and motivational talks and share with them stories of our beloved grandpa. Many youths listening to us turned over a new leaf and decided to quit smoking drugs."In 2018, the Mendonca twins immigrated to USA where they observed their underage peers vape in classrooms and they decided to do a survey."We were baffled to find out that 97% use flavored e-cigarettes. 90% vaped Juul. 85% were from ages 12-17 years," Renee says, "These numbers were very alarming and disturbing.
We felt we could not remain silent anymore and watch the youth being robbed of their lives due to this new devil vaping e-cigarettes."This triggered them to write letters to President Donald Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, First lady Melania Trump and governors of 50 states in America."Due to the magnitude of our action at the age of 16, we realized we created a snowball effect.
New York was the 1st state to ban flavored e-cigarettes followed by 10 states. It was a Jesus moment for us. A moment of celebration and jubilation. We received letters of appreciation from all governors of 50 states." Renee exclaimed with excitement but it was not all happiness, she complains, "But sadly, it is very heartbreaking that our letters to President Donald Trump demanding a ban of e-cigarettes in America fell on deaf ears."
Vaping is like a ticking time bomb waiting to explode. Chemical pneumonia is spreading its ugly tentacles like wildfire across America. Vaping companies are making billions of dollars and our youth are paying it with their lives.On being asked what have they done so far, she replied, "We led a silent march in times square, Rockefeller center, outside Macy, Staten Island Ferry to spread awareness of dangers of vaping.
We protest every Friday outside UN from 5pm to 6pm. We have conducted anti-vaping campaigns in schools colleges and social media. We have composed our own lyrics and sung a song at a youth conference to spread the message of anti-vaping. We also share our wisdom and advice as teen psychologists on quora (medium and blogposts). We have made apple podcasts on iTunes Spotify google podcast to spread awareness."
She says that youth from more than 77 countries have contacted them through a secret letter anonymously through their Instagram account @wings_ofhope and email email@example.com.When I asked Renee, "what felt was the most difficult thing in the whole process?" She gave the most lovely reply. She said, "When we were doing the anti-vaping campaign in schools and colleges, our greatest challenges were getting the support of vaping addicts. They boycotted the campaign.
But by the 3rd day, they joined it and have been our greatest advocate and strong supporters. They bring their friends who are vaping addicts to our organization thus it creates a ripple effect as they in turn act as change agents. The greatest lesson we have learned from our campaign is that you can win anyone's heart by love and not playing the blame game."These twins are determined to do whatever is necessary. They say that they will not remain silent until America bans flavored e-cigarettes in America and are waiting for our new President to be elected to send him our letters of protest to ban flavored E-cigarettes in America.
"I am confident that our voice will be heard and we will win."
Help Renee Mendonca and Rhea Mendonca to stop millions of people from vaping and saving lives. Join their movement now!Instagram: @rheamendonca, @reneemendonca