By Albertine Perre-Bulder, past governor of District 1570 and National Immunization Day team leader
India is such a beautiful country. I am amazed by its many colorful cultures. And it has worked so hard to eliminate Polio!
Our Rotary team of 16 volunteers from District 1570 (Netherlands) participated in National Immunization Days (NID) in Bijnor and Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh in February. We vaccinated many children during Booth Day, but also went door to door so as not to miss a single child.
As we dispensed two drops of the vaccine into the mouths of children under the age of five, “two drops of life,” volunteers marked the children’s left pinkies with purple and noted their homes in chalk on a board to indicate all children in the house had been vaccinated. The children were delighted by the small presents we brought them, bursting out in many smiles.
During a previous NID, I was struck by the number of polio victims who had to crawl or depend on others to get around. I thought, what if next time, we brought wheelchairs to give out to the victims of this dreadful, crippling disease.
Thanks to the generous donations of Rotarians and a gift from our district, we were able to raise a staggering US$10,000 to buy wheelchairs. Neeraj Agarwal, governor of District 3100 (India, part of Uttar Pradesh) ordered the wheelchairs in India and drew up a list of patients based on the selected criteria.
During two impressive and memorable ceremonies in Bijnor and Moradabad, we were able to distribute a total of 50 wheelchairs, 40 tricycles, crutches, and many, many hugs!
Beneficiaries arrived, crawling on both their hands or carried by family members. A few were already sitting in their new wheelchairs long before the ceremony started, welcoming us with beaming smiles. They left the ceremony with a new found independence — heading into a life of increased mobility.
It was a very emotional and humbling experience to be there and to witness what a difference our contribution had made. The trip to India was unforgettable for our team, and truly an honor to be able to contribute to the End Polio Now campaign.