A Long Weekend in Delhi

Colin and Isabel Sharp travel to participate in the National Polio Immunisation Day.

A Long Weekend in Delhi

My wife Isabel and I travelled to Delhi to join a group of around 100 Rotarians and partners from the UK who had volunteered to assist local Rotary Clubs participate in the National Immunisation Day (NID) on 21st February 2016 against Polio. The eradication of polio is a key worldwide priority for Rotary International working with UNICEF, the WHO, the US Centres for Disease Control and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This campaign has been very successful and from approximately 350,000 cases diagnosed in 1988 the number in 2015 was about one case per week. Although India has been declared “polio free’ there is a continuing need to immunise children. Many children now receive the injectable form of the vaccine, but it is still necessary to provide oral vaccine, particularly in poorer areas. The teams that we were joining would be giving oral vaccine.

We were part of a sub-group going to Karnal in Haryana province, an industrial town about 130 Km north of Delhi where we would be hosted by the Rotary Club of Karnal Mid Town. The plan was to be briefed and travel to Karnal on the Friday, then take part in pre-NID publicity events wearing our distinctive yellow polo shirts on the Saturday followed by working in the immunisation booths on the Sunday. Events outside our control intervened and although we travelled to Karnal, civil disturbances, mainly elsewhere in Haryana Province, led to the imposition of Public Order Restrictions and the NID being cancelled. Our programme changed to include a visit to a school, judging a poster competition, a visit to a Dairy Research Centre, participating in a Health Clinic and visiting two slum areas to publicise the need for immunisation. In the poorer of the two slums we saw a simple school which was partly funded by the Rotary Club. Our group were guests of the Rotary Club of Karnal Mid Town on the Sunday evening where we were hospitably entertained and thanked for coming to India.

While all this was disappointing at one level, we were privileged to meet interesting people and to see life from a very different perspective. Our journey back to Delhi on the Monday was seriously disrupted by the on-going civil unrest but we eventually arrived safely late in the evening. Before setting off for home we spent an enjoyable day sightseeing in Delhi. We will consider returning next year and I would commend the experience to anyone interested.

Colin Sharp

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