Sid Valley Rotary Club member travels to India to help fight polio

PUBLISHED: 17:00 07 April 2020

Alison Marchant (front row, centre) with UK and Indian Rotarians. Picture: Rotary International

Alison Marchant (front row, centre) with UK and Indian Rotarians. Picture: Rotary International

Rotary International

Alison Marchant travelled to Amritsar as part of Rotary International’s ongoing campaign to eradicate polio worldwide.

The young girl living in one room in Amritsar   Picture: Alison MarchantThe young girl living in one room in Amritsar Picture: Alison Marchant

India is polio-free, but the disease is endemic in neighbouring Pakistan and Afghanistan, so immunisation is a high priority.

Mrs Marchant’s trip took place in January, before the coronavirus lockdown.

Nine Rotarians from different parts of the country came to help the Rotary Club of Amritsar immunise children living in slum areas.

The group were split into teams of three and taken to different parts of the city, where medical students showed them how to administer the vaccine.

She said: “The children were brought to us by parents or grandparents and we gave each child under five two drops of the vaccine, straight into their mouths.

“We then gave them a sweet, balloon, pencil or suchlike that we had taken with us, to soften the blow.

“The parents were so grateful and humble and the children just adorable, they have nothing and could not believe that they had been given these things.”

On the second day of the vaccination programme, the group were taken into the homes of children who the students knew had not been vaccinated.

“This was a very memorable experience,” she said.

“My particular favourite was where we were invited into the home of a very young lady who was on a bed with a toddler of about 18 months/two years and an eight-day-old baby.

“We could see that this was her one room in which she takes care of her little family.”

During their visit, the group also saw other projects supported by the Rotary Club of Amritsar, including an education centre for girls and initiatives to help elderly people and those with mental health problems.

They visited the Golden Temple and attended a military ceremony that takes place daily on the India-Pakistan border.

Mrs Marchant said: “I left for home, shattered but humbled by the experience which will remain with me forever.

“I do hope to able to attend a future National Immunisation Day (NID) in Delhi.”

She has been presented with two awards by the Sid Valley Rotary Club in recognition of her service.

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