Blog Master’s Note:
Please use the Categories to navigate the blog. (––––>)
The entries are not in chronological order on the Home Page!
Sorry for the inconvenience.
Blog Master’s Note:
Please use the Categories to navigate the blog. (––––>)
The entries are not in chronological order on the Home Page!
Sorry for the inconvenience.
Here are some numbers and facts about the NID day/India trip:
45 Rotarians from the USA, the Cayman Islands, Australia, Jamaica and Canada came on the NID trip to India.
5 million children were immunized during NID day.
In Chandigarh, 80,000 children received the polio vaccine.
In Chandigarh, Chandigarh Rotary volunteers – 200; also, government assigned health workers (in charge of maintaining cold chain/ paperwork), community volunteers and vocational students assisted in NID.
Children in most countries only have to get 1 polio shot and 2 boosters; Indian children receive about 10-20 polio drops.
There are only 4 more countries that have polio outbreaks: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria and India. The hope is that if India eradicates polio, then the other countries will have an easier time eradicating their polio cases.
In India, the major outbreaks occur in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. When one of these states gets under control, it seems the other has a bad outbreak.
Because polio has been eradicated every other country, the doctors in India have to do their own research to find cures for those who are paralyzed by Polio.
There are three types of polio – Type 1, Type 2 and Type 3. Type 2 has been eradicated from the world and Type 1 and Type 3 are the two types that are seen in India, Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
As I sit here, at home, recalling the trip almost makes it seem like a dream. To have missed 10 days of school was something that I never thought that I would do. However, when I think about the reason why I missed school, I realize that I would’ve rather missed school than miss having the opportunity to go to India to make a change, even if it was small. Arriving in India, I immediately took notice to the change in atmosphere. The people were much more crowded together and there was a heightened sense of alert, but it was dulled by the chaos. Arriving at the hotel, I worried about whether the other people on this trip would accept me or be kind to me. Not knowing what to expect, I was relieved when I met everyone because with them, I felt a sense of togetherness in a single cause – to eradicate polio. From the youngest, my sister (14), to the oldest, Tom (78), the people welcomed my sister and me with warmth and compassion.
The following days were about to change my life significantly, but today, when I was asked how it changed me, I could not find the answer to that question. There definitely was a change, but is a subtle one, so subtle that not even I picked up on it. Maybe I have learned how to look at young child and make then laugh. Maybe I have learned that there is more to life than a queen sized bed – and a twin bed as well. Maybe I have learned to reach out to others who are disabled, whether they be in a hospital or a disabled school. Maybe it is more than any of the things that I have named, and I just have yet to identify the change. All I know is that India has impacted me with unforgettable memories.
India, to me, had a sense of hope. All the people were hopeful and to them anything was possible. Hope is the first step in obtaining one’s goals, at least in my opinion. For instance, India hopes to one day eradicate polio, for good. Thus, with this optimistic view, they have set out to complete an incredible hard task. And they are succeeding. While there for Booth day, I watched as cars would pull over and offer their children to the polio vaccine. Amazed, I would help give the drops, realizing that these people wanted to make sure their children didn’t have to suffer polio, which would in turn lead to one less child with the possibility of getting polio. Even the people who would volunteer and the government workers, they had hope that one day India would be free of polio. The involvement and sense of hope that drives India astonished me – even I landed up having the same feelings towards polio by the end of the trip. The feeling that we can do this, even if it is just one step at a time.
The Mop Up Days also brought to my attention the other side of India – the less fortunate side. Going house to house, I was able to peek inside of a house. I was surprised to see a single room which consisted of a bedroom, a closet, a kitchen, and a bathroom – all in one room. It was then that understood that India has two sides, the fortunate side, which was much more beautiful, and the less fortunate side, which as alien to me. I was even more stupefied when we saw the real slums – the slums that had tents for homes that 7-15 people shared. Reality of this divided country hit me hard. Yet, the people in the slums were not bitter. They were very kind, and even though they did not have much (at least for USA standards), they still wanted to offer us tea and share what “little” they had. Here was a kindness that I had never encountered, at least not to this extent. The small act of wanting to offer us tea made an impression on me and made me think about what I offer to people.
Also, looking back, I definitely want to thank my host family, the Singh family. Uncleji (PJ), Auntyji (Rajinder) and Bikrum were without a doubt the kindest people to take in a family of four. Unsure of how the family would accept two teenaged girls, my feelings of uneasiness disappeared. With arms wide open, the Singh family showed us an exceptional amount hospitality. And I even had a small Hindi lesson (but it was no more than about 10 words)! So, undoubtedly, thank you Singh family for showing me and my family remarkable compassion as we invaded your house!
Coming back, I was asked to compare India to the USA, and I couldn’t. There is such a difference, it is almost as if the two countries are on two different planets. I have been to other third world countries, such as South Africa and China, but India is another place entirely. My sister said that there was a high sense of gratitude; for instance, when an Indian man, woman or child would get in to the hospital after waiting 2 months, they were happy. But gratitude is not a word that I would choose. There was more of a sense of appreciation – even the smallest things were appreciated and valued. Even then, appreciation does not describe the feeling found in India properly. For me, someone who is not good with words, there is no way for me to describe the feelings that I felt in India.
India is on another playing field. There is just something about going to India that you can not get from reading a textbook or looking at pictures. India is India and I am lucky to have had the chance to go to such a beautiful place and see everything – all the beauty and even some less beautiful things that still held beauty in them, in their own way.
So once again, thank you Rotary for allowing me to accompany my family on this trip; thank you all the people who went on this trip for being kind to two teenagers who were following their parent half way across the world; thank you the Singh family for making the trip an absolute joy and for showing an immense amount of hospitality; thank you Rotary in Chandigarh for allowing us to participate in the NID days; and finally thank you India for giving me another perspective on life – for changing me in ways that are yet to be seen in the future.
To a trip that shall always be remember in my memories.
Little brown faces tilt upward to receive two life saving drops, some with smiles and some with tears.
Lovely ladies proudly wearing bright colors make rainbows against the dark brown soil disturbed by the wind causing dust swirls in little storms making sails and scarves flutter as graceful bodies move on silent feet across the dirt floors.
The squalor does not phase these determined vessels of new life and hope for the live breathe, and work to survive in conditions we know not
The door closes and we move on to visit another adventure in humanity.
~DG Betsy Owen –– District 6930
As my dear friend Townes and I sat this evening at the airport in Delhi waiting to take our flights home, she read a quote to me that perhaps captures the essence of what has occurred in the last 10 days of my life. “To dream one must close one’s eyes…” she read, “but to make it a reality one must toil and work hard.” And that is exactly what this polio NID experience was… we are committed to the dream of making the world polio free and that is why we came to India, but during those 3 working NID days, we toiled hard to make it one step closer to reality. I must admit that as the mother of the two youngest teenagers that went on this trip, I questioned what I was doing and what the gain would be for exposing my children to such an experience. And now, as I sit here on the plane ride home, I can say unequivocally the gain for me but especially for my children was immeasurable. So before I share my thoughts and reflections of our trip, let me say this – I encourage all Rotary parents to take their children with them on an NID program somewhere in the world. Do it – you will not regret it.Before coming to India I tired to need as much as I could on the geography, culture and history of India. Armed with knowledge, I believe you can conquer the world. Information wan going to be one “army” that would allow me, as Alexander the Great said, to come, to see, and to conquer the unfamiliar world I was entering. Before leaving, a description by Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964), first prime minister of India, caught my eye. “India is a land of contrasts, of some very rich and many very poor, of modernism and medievalism… India is not a poor country, but she is abundantly supplied with everything that makes a country rich, yet her people are very poor.” Indeed, India is a nation of contrasts. I saw growing prosperity and progress that made me hopeful for India. But I also saw poverty and stagnation like I had never seen before. Having grown up and worked in health care in South Africa, I am not unfamiliar with 3rd world poverty, but this was an ancient poverty like I’d never experienced before. I saw India’s “beautiful” – its vibrant colors, the majestic Taj Mahal, its endless gracious hospitality – like that shown to us by out wonderful hosts who took us in and treated us like family. But I also saw its “ugly” side – the heaps of trash upon which children played, the dull eyes of beggars, disfigured with polio and the squalor in which families of 15-20 members would live, crammed together with no hope of change. I came to India, I saw, and I now understand, a little better, the huge challenges that India faces in the march towards modernization and future progress. On the Booth Day, I was delighted to see that as the day came to an end we would stop children who had already had a little purple finger, indicating that they had the polio drops. We had made a difference! And during the next two Mop Up days, as we went door to door in many of the homes, we found children with little painted purple fingers again. Yes! The systematic program was working!My experience with the polio NID has been life changing. The smiles (and sometimes tears) of the children who surrendered themselves to the two drops of vaccine, the look of accomplishment on parents faces that knew that they had done something good for their child, and the determination of the endless, dedicated, health workers, doctors, and volunteers that made the NID happen, will always be in my heart. I always remind myself, and my children, that with a privileged life comes a responsibility to help those less privileged. However, for some reason, this NID experience has not felt like a responsibility, but rather like a privilege. And so, I must thank Rotary for its vision that gave me this opportunity and my husband (who is the Rotarian) the privilege to participate in this experience and India for leaving her mark on me. It is my hope that I will be able to participate in future NID programs and so… India, I will be back if you will have me, and hopefully, I will bring with me other families who are committed to the fight to eradicate polio. Forever.~Elisa KingI wish to express my many thanks to all who were my hosts, including the spouses and family members of the Rotarians, during my NID experience in Mohali. Dr. Singh escorted us on Day 1 and provided a very nice lunch at his club. I am grateful for his contributions to Rotary in eye care and for his patience for my many inquiries. Thank you Dr. Singh. To my acquaintance at Amrit Cargo (whose name I do not have) who drove us around the slum areas on Mop up day 1. He, too, was patient with my inquiries. Thank you for your dedication to Rotary in Rotaract, then as a Rotarian- a total of 30 years now. To my friend, Manpreet, who was our neighbor in Mohali, and our driver on Mop up day 2. Thank you for your hospitality and your kindness. To our friend who knows how to get things done, our driver on Mop up day 2, as well, Navneet Saxena. We enjoyed visiting with you and your parents who showed us great hospitality. Your efforts to secure camera cards, disks, help with photography, take us anywhere were very much appreciated. Your daughters are lovely. Last and most appreciated friend of Mohali- Khushjiv Singh Sethi, wife Polly, and sons- how can we thank you enough? Giving us a place to live, providing wonderful foods, kindness, and love while so many miles from home was beyond our expectations. It was difficult to leave you on Wednesday, but we are already making plans for your visit in September with open arms. I enjoyed wearing my “suit” made by Sahiba again evening before last while in Agra. We are planning a dinner party at my house when we return to share our stories of host families and wear our beautiful clothing purchased while in India. Our memories of being with your family will never fade, I am sure. Many thanks. To Dr. Raju, our NID partner while there, who does not have email- we are thankful for his dedication, skill, and hopefulness. Please let us know from time to time that Dr. Raju is still working with polio. Our homes will always be open to our friends in India. I truly hope we will meet again and again. Best wishes, Beth Stubbs, AG Rotary Club of Maryville, TN
An experience that far outweighed my expectations and will never be forgotten. It was an absolute privilege to be involved in this small way to support the fantastic work being carried out by the Rotarians at Chandigarh, Midtown and Panchkula in eradicating polio from India. The memories of the smiling, excited children, the engaging conversation about cricket, playing marbles, singing the National Anthem of India with the whistle choir (you are amazing Townes) and the sheer number of children, babies, and toddlers who just seem to appear from everywhere to be administered the 2 drops of polio serum.
Thank you especially to Sarvjitt and Sandeep for all your wonderful care and attention – nothing was ever an issue and you really are doing some amazing work within your own community. I also felt very honored to meet your families and enjoy some wonderful times and delicious meals with them.
A heartfelt thank you to all
February 4th, 2009
Departing Chandigarh was such sweet sorrow. The hospitality we had experienced personified graciousness. Back in our rose colored bubble (our bus) we shared our stories with the ever changing landscape of Punjab just outside the windows. Slowly – we rolled along – insulated from the ubiquitous dust. Next stop – The Ambala Rotary Club. We arrived around 10:30 a.m. to see their new signature project-a cancer hospital that is being built in stages. Through a variety of matching grants the facility has procured mammography and x-ray equipment. This hospital is a testament to the Ambala Rotarians’ dream and their persistence. Adjacent to the hospital is a school for 120 deaf children, also initiated by the Ambala Rotarians several decades ago. We toured the classrooms and were entertained by the children. Their performance of a native dance was remarkable given that they could not hear the music. As always, the children melted our hearts. So much has been accomplished with so little. Last, we toured the eye hospital, which has also benefited from Rotary matching grants. Bottom line is that in Ambala, Rotary has made and continues to make a huge difference in the lives of their community. Before reboarding our “bubble,” the Ambala Rotarians provided a lovely lunch at the private sports club and we left with increased insight and awareness of how a small club is making a huge difference.
The drive to Delhi resumed. The landscape – a never ending kaleidoscope of humanity huddled in need.
Enroute we stopped at a unique bazaar with modern restrooms (significant) and a plethora of shops. Several of us opted to ride a camel around the grounds. Bumpy. Another fun and unexpected diversion. Before reaching the Oberoi Hotel, our oasis in Delhi, we were taken to a famous shopping area called India Gate where there were stalls featuring crafts and treasures from each of the 31 Indian states. Beth and I were on a mission to find David a ‘proper” traditional Indian marvadi. Our mission was not accomplished, but the quest was memorable. By that time we had decided to have dinner and cocktails together in my hotel room. It had been a long day. Our senses were overloaded. We needed to decompress. When I arrived in my room overlooking the Delhi Golf Club, there was a bottle of Bollinger champagne waiting for me and the day became a dream as the bubbles and laughter filled our souls.
February 2-3, 2009
The last two days. The days that would make sure that all the children had been immunized. Mop Up Day.
The Mop Up days took two days, and it involved going house to house to see if all the children had been immunized. Dispersed in different groups, over 100 teams were dispatched to check each house. Some of the people in the groups had been doing the Mop Up days for over 5 years, so they knew the many of people who lived in each house. Each group was given forms that they had to fill out for each house. On the forms it had a column for whether a family was home, what number house they were for that Mop Up day, and whether there were children that needed the vaccine or not. Because within each area, there were so many houses and families living so close together, there were sometimes over 300 houses for one team to go through. After a house had been checked, with chalk, on the outside near the door, someone from the team would write. The formula for the writing on the wall was as followed:T 101 A – which meant Team 101 Section A P 115 – which meant Polio House 115 3.2.09 – which meant the day, the month and the year that the house was checked
Sometimes, an X would be put in place of the P115. This meant that the house either was empty or that it was a shop. Because there are so many houses in India, Mop Up day has to span over two days. The immense amount of houses made the task of having to go and check each house seem tiresome and uneventful, but the Indian people who did this every year were happy to help with the eradication of polio.
I was truly amazed at the desire to completely eradicate polio from India. Between the Booth Day and the Mop Up days, hopefully India can one day claim to be a polio free country.