After worming our way through the narrow streets of Moradabad, a small city in Uttar Pradesh, India, a local doctor brought us by foot to the End Polio Now rally which had already begun.
As part of a team of 20 Rotarians from districts 6440 (Illinois, USA), 6270 (Wisconsin, USA), 5650 (Nebraska, USA), and 1070 (England), we are in India this week to immunize hundreds of children in the Moradabad area and participate in a Polio Summit Conference 25-26 February involving Rotary leadership, government and health ministry leaders from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, and surrounding countries.
Words are inadequate to describe the rally. We marched about a mile plus with people yelling, microphones blaring, and people waving. This was all to raise awareness of Sunday, when we will be doing the immunizations. The emotions were overwhelming. There were several hundreds of people in this rally.
After the march, there was a ceremony in the park. Then we were taken to one of many slum areas in this city. The squatters “survive” by collecting rags and plastic bags that are purchased by a local company who recycles them. Once again Rotary has stepped in by providing a health clinic twice a week to immunize and take care of the health of these incredibly poor people. They treat worms, lice, and many common infections.
Back to the hotel for a quick change of clothing and then more ceremony at the local Rotary meeting of two of the 15 clubs in Moradabad. We were honored and lauded for coming from so far to help these people fight polio. The state of Uttar Pradesh used to have the most cases of polio, and now there has not been an active case of the crippling disease in Moradabad for two years and three months.
Adapted from nid2012India, where you can read an ongoing account of the NID team.