The team has been divided into four groups. One is going to the Bus Station, one to the Railway Station, and two to slum areas - we are one of the slum teams.
The offices of the Medical Officer of Health
had a few Polio Posters were on display outside and our vaccination day started there with a photo-call.
Photos are becoming more important these days because everyone has a mobile phone and everyone belongs to Facebook. Hence it became common during this vaccination for our photo to be taken in a selfie and immediately posted somewhere for the whole world to see.
Within the grounds of the Medical Office is a building site
and next to that is where many of the building labourers seemed to live.
Unfortunately for them, they had been chosen to participate in the photographed first polio vaccination for everyone present - not only the 12 in our group but also all of the other local rotarians who were there.
Being the group leader, I was given the first child who was trying to keep his mouth shut.
Experience of doing it before meant that I was able to show everyone else how to vaccinate a terrified child !
Pat demonstrated the gentler approach although I suspect her child was being more compliant than mine!
One of the pictures taken appeared on the front page of the Ludhiana Tribune with a long article about Polio and Rotary.
It also appeared in the Daily Ajit, another of the local newspapers.
Photo-call over, we dispersed to our various locations to start vaccinating.
We are initially heading to a camp in Sector 32 which is on the western side of town. When we arrive, there is already a crown assembling and also some of the local health workers.
Parts of the camp are quite reasonable as camps go
and here and there are signs of slightly more wealth
and the area is reasonably clean.
Where we are working however is in one of the far corners of the camp
and we are led down paths
past numerous curious locals
to where we are starting work.
After yet another obligatory set of photo-calls
with reasonably compliant children,
the real works starts
and we are swamped
with children wanting vaccinating or with parents bringing their child for vaccination. Not all are the correct age (under 6) and so we have to check the larger ones. Also some have been vaccinated already and are firmly turned away. No harm results from being vaccinated twice but it is a waste of vaccine.
Not all children know what to do and it helps to have someone with you to demonstrate!!!!
The technique is as always: check the left hand little finger to make sure it has not been marked
get two drops into the mouth without letting the vaccine vial touch the mouth (hygiene reasons)
mark the little finger of the left hand with the indelible marker,
and on to the next child
who may be reluctant or resigned to their fate.
We were delighted that our Travel Arranger (Shalini Yadav) volunteered to be a Rotarian for the day
and very enthusiastically worked with us and we felt she was just as much a Rotarian as any one of of us.
The camp is not just a place where people live, it is also a place where people work.
One home called us in to show us how the daughter of the family
turned long stretches of cloth into carpets by removing material forming the weft (the purple colour)
then twisting the black warp which remained before cutting it and tying the ends into tassels.
Having vaccinated as many as possible here, we went to our next site which was in the Maa Sharda Vidaypeeth School on a main road in Ward 19.
Initially we were working outside in the alleyways around the school but it got so chaotic that we were forced to retreat into the school
and after the obligatory photo-call
the children were forced into a queue
and vaccinated as fast as possible
whilst ignoring the body covered with a blanket
on the floor in a corner of the classroom.
None of the photographs can adequately convey the noise and the intensity of work. We are totally convinced that it was because there were some strange foreigners dressed in yellow there that so many children turned up.
Being on the front line of the Polio Battle is a privilege and something which every Rotarian should try to experience.