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India Memories 2012
Sandra L. Roberts, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Barry University, Miami Shores, FL
Past President of Miami Shores Rotary
Rotary Dream Team 2012 - NID in India
February 16, traveling some 24 hours to Delhi, India, I joined 35 other Rotarians from the U.S., Mexico, France, Australia and India, to participate in the Polio NID (National Immunization Day) on Sunday, February the 19th. Rising before dawn we rode by bus for four hours right into the heart of the Mewat District and the Muslim village of Punahana, where the latest polio case was reported as recently as January 2011. Unfortunately, large sections of the local population here still resist all efforts to get them to bring their children to the polio booths. Over 950 children were immunized by our "Rotary Dream Team 2012", adding to the millions of children throughout India who also received this life saving vaccine on the same day.
We then traveled to a location outside the Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary in the State of Rajasthan to construct a check-dam for the local villagers. Four intense days of lifting and placing stones, one by one, mixing the "masala" (cement) and carrying this down into the dam, one bucket at a time to secure the stones. Working side by side with the paid workers, local Hindu ladies was an incredible experience. By the end of April this retention dam will be completed by the locals and ready for the first of the monsoons. The dam will help about 5 surrounding villages to increase their annual crop yield by 50 percent, by retaining the considerable amount of monsoon rain water that flows away every year. We stayed in a tent encampment consisting of Swiss-style tents with eastern style toilets and showers, a large dining tent and a reception tent where we would gather in the afternoons following our trek through the countryside returning from work ... the image of Lawrence of Arabia comes to mind!
During our trip Ghulam Nabi Azad, India's minister of Health and Family Welfare, made the announcement at the Polio Summit 2012 in New Delhi on 25 February that the World Health Organization has officially removed India from the list of polio-endemic countries. India's last reported case was a two-year-old girl in West Bengal State on 13 January 2011. Before polio eradication can be certified in India, it must go two more years without another case of the disease. Polio remains endemic in only three countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan
Privileged to have been part of this incredible, life affirming experience.