January, 2015 I did a Rotary Friendship Exchange (RFE) in India. For two weeks Jan and I toured the state of Gujharat. 13 of us resided with Rotarians in 4 different towns. The local Rotarians showed us their Rotary projects, community facilities and events. An RFE is not a holiday – it’s an experience. One such experience is pictured left. It just so happened we were there on a National Immunization Day. Rotary is well known for working to eradicate polio from the world. Rotary has almost achieved it! It remains endemic in 3 countries only. A year ago India was declared polio free. Every year N.I.D.’s set out to immunize local children against polio. Although polio free the clinics must carry on for a few years as polio is in neighbouring Pakistan, for now. Rotarians help man the N.I.D. booths. We got to assist. Here I am giving two polio drops to a youngster. It made me weepy. For years I have supported the Rotary Foundation and talked about Rotary’s End Polio Now program. I never thought I would be at an N.I.D. in India. Very moving.
India has been quite the experience. The sights and sounds, the food, the air, the tastes, the smells. The warmth, the humanity. Incredible. I found it exhausting yet exhilarating.. Jan nd I made lifetime friends and learned an immense amount. We have new appreciations for home and the home of 1.2 billion people. We have seen riches and desperation, hope and despair. Jan and I always wanted to visit India. The RFE made it a unique way to discover the true India. We also made a difference by assisting several Rotary projects. And yes, gave two drops to young people who will never have to worry about the ravages of polio.