District 1175 in India for NID 2017
This, our second NID, we were
accompanied by another member from Braunton Caen, Paul Cockcroft and his wife
Jane. One further member, Peter Cross from RC of Asburton/Buckfastleigh
attended from D1175, 60 in total from across the UK who went to 3 different
Our group of 20 Rotarians
departed Delhi after a briefing by a member of the India National Polio Plus
Committee and arrived on Friday afternoon in Bhiwadi, Rajasthan, welcomed very
enthusiastically by the three Rotary Clubs and the Inner Wheel Club in Bhiwadi.
Later we attended a “family meet”, an evening function where we witnessed the
presentations of 5 “multi PHF awards” to local Rotarians, which were followed
by the donation of gifts, dancing and hot food. Such generous hosts who made us
feel so welcome.
The following day, Saturday, was
very full and varied as we promoted the national immunisation campaign in
Bhiwadi. We were split into 3 groups and taken to local schools which are
supported by Rotary.
On regrouping, we spent most of
the afternoon visiting various service projects sponsored by the Bhiwadi Clubs.
These included Moksha Dham - a rotary sponsored and supported Hindu
Crematorium, and an e-learning project.
Another of the projects was
Balwadi (Bal = small children, Wadi = a kind of home), a school for street
children, who are educated and brought up to a required standard so that they
can then be introduced to regular schools. It was also a vocational training
centre for their mothers who were learning Henna decorations and dress making
skills using hand operated sewing machines whist sat on the floor, which would
enable them to support their families. The club also sponsor an Ambulance.
Our final official activity of
the day was a visit to the Government Hospital to meet the Chief Medical
Officer of Health - the man responsible for the organisation of tomorrow’s NID.
This was where the vaccine was stored until the day and then distributed
in cool boxes, many of which were ready for packing the following day. An
important part of the briefing was to ensure we all understood the need to keep
the polio vaccine cold when we were administering it. All polio vials had a
themo-sensitive marker on their side which changes colour if the vaccine starts
to get warm.
That evening we were hosted by
the President of Inner Wheel (who was also a Rotarian) in her home. We were
entertained by her entire family who impressed us with their genuine warmth and
The NID started at the District
Hospital and as we arrived, the Polio Vaccine was already being distributed
from the hospital, some leaving on motorbikes, others on foot, all carrying the
insulated containers. After the many inauguration speeches (the Indian way!)
and the first official ceremonial vaccine was given to a child, we set off by
coach to our first vaccination station which was on the side of the road in the
middle of a nearby suburb of the town. Our brief was to flood an area with
vaccinators ensuring that every house was visited, every street was gone up and
as much noise was made as possible. We were brightly dressed in yellow t-shirts
and caps and we attract far more children to vaccination booths than is the
case if they are staffed only buy local healthcare workers. At every booth, we
were mobbed with children and their parents seeking vaccination. Many older
brothers and sisters brought their young siblings with them to be vaccinated.
On vaccinating, the children receive a small present such as a balloon or
pencil. We visited 9 booths in total, starting with the poorest slum areas – to
tented areas – to flats – and finally on to newer high-rise flats occupied by
the wealthier Indian families. It is difficult to estimate how many children
our group vaccinated, but we were to learn that last year we had increased the
immunisation uptake from 30-35% to 60-65% on average in each booth. This year
the numbers were even greater as the quantity of vaccines at each booth had
been doubled in anticipation and we still ran out.
On the follow-up day, we started
at a Bangladesh migrant camp in the town, who earned a living by collecting
anything thrown away which can be sorted, recycled and then sold.Despite their poverty and very basic living
conditions, everyone was very pleased to see us.
Having completed vaccinating
here, we went off to our last Rotary sponsored project where cows who reach the
end of their useful life are cared for on a farm. We were shown the biomass
project, where the gas collected is stored and used for cooking and
lighting.We were then bid a fond
farewell by our Indian friends and returned to Delhi for the next stage of our
Paul & Jane experienced a
similar time in Delhi, being joined by hundreds of pupils from a local Public
School for a Polio Awareness Rally, a vibrant, noisy and colourful parade
around the streets with floats, band, singers and dancers - a cacophonous event
with loud chanting of “Keep India polio free!” It certainly raised public awareness
of the impending immunisation programme. That evening the Delhi volunteers were
hosted at a dinner by one of Delhi’s many Rotary clubs.
The next day, Paul and Jane,
accompanied by a local Rotarian went to Delhi’s Garden where they assisted
health workers at two different immunisation “booths” to immunise children from
the poorest communities. They themselves immunised over 120 babies and
youngsters. That afternoon they visited the Rotary supported Polio Corrective
Surgery and Rehabilitation Project at St Stephens Hospital, witnessing the
remarkable work there enabling polio victims who have never been able to walk
previously, to walk for the first time with callipers, crutches or even
The following day, the group went
door-to-door in another area of extreme deprivation to find children who had
not attended the booths the previous day. It was a truly humbling experience to
see the impoverished conditions in which some Indians are living. Later that
day they also visited other Rotary projects including a Diabetes Centre and a
school for under-privileged children.
Donations on behalf of the Rotary
Club of Braunton Caen were made to a number of the charitable undertakings we
Roger & Paula Byrom
The Rotary Club of Braunton Caen