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News & Media > Alumnae Awards > 2023 Alumnae Award Recipients > Nirosha Karunakaran (Ganeswaran, 1996)

Nirosha Karunakaran (Ganeswaran, 1996)

2023 Alumnae Award for Philanthropic Endeavours
Aisha with her mum, Nirosha Karunakaran (Ganeswaran, 1996)
Aisha with her mum, Nirosha Karunakaran (Ganeswaran, 1996)

On 24 November 2016 Nirosha’s six-year-old daughter, Aisha Karunakaran, then in Year 1 at MLC School, succumbed to complications stemming from a Bone Marrow transplant to treat Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML).

While Aisha’s life was short, it was a life full of joy and love. Everyone who knew her enjoyed her larger than life personality, her beaming smile, her cheeky wit and her loving hugs.

Nirosha and her family intrinsically knew that the way to celebrate Aisha’s beautiful life was to transform their personal tragedy into something meaningful; to transition a story of sadness into a story of hope. They were determined to do everything they could to help ensure other families didn’t have to experience the immense loss they had suffered.

Nirosha recognised that although incredible progress in the treatment of childhood leukaemia has been made over the years, it was only by continued research that the goal of 100% treatment success rates could become a reality.

In the last six and a half years, Nirosha has raised over $120,000, through the generosity of family, friends and strangers, which has been directed towards research for paediatric AML and Bone Marrow Transplantation.

In addition to her tremendous fundraising efforts, each year in April, Nirosha celebrates Aisha’s birthday by coordinating a toy drive that delivers boxes of toys to the Sydney Children’s Hospital, brightening the day of sick children.

In 2021, Nirosha’s book Remembering Aisha was published. This children’s book gently explores death and grief, and lovingly explains the reality of loss by sharing a little girl’s journey as she remembers her sister. It offers reassurance that even after death our loved ones still exist through our love and memories of them. All profits from the sale of this book are donated by Nirosha to charities supporting paediatric cancer research.

Even though Aisha had been ill for some time, her passing came as a devastating shock to the MLC School community, especially in the Junior School. Nirosha bravely shared her grief with the Junior School girls, and talked about how she was able to find meaning in her fundraising efforts. This inspired the girls from Aisha’s cohort to each year participate in The World’s Greatest Shave. Last year, the students in the MLC School team, galvanised by Nirosha, raised over $56,000 for the Leukaemia Foundation.

Nirosha is an inspiration, showing us that there is the potential to create something very meaningful out of suffering. She continues to strive for the betterment of humanity.  

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