February 27th - 3:30 PM

February 27th - 3:30 PM

A Chapter by Jim Parson

National Immunization Day


February 27th - 3:30 PM - National Immunization Day

I miss Zena and Alex.  The time change has made it difficult to call.  When I’m available, they’re asleep.  I’ve only been gone a few days, but already I’m looking forward to seeing them again.  Life is not the same without them. 


Today was an incredible experience.  It was the start of the NID and we traveled to various booths meeting the volunteers and giving drops to infants and small children.  I have seen things I can never describe and from my experience, pictures usually don’t do them justice.  I hope all the photos I’ve been taking will give some feel for what we are experiencing here.


The event is heavily publicized with posters and banners everywhere.  It seems every block has a banner stretched across the street and every building is plastered with posters.

The hope is that parents will bring their children, ages 5 and under, to the booths to be immunized.  Across the whole city, there are 2,050 booths with almost 10,000 volunteers - local people, mostly youth and university students.  We talked to many of them today and they all seem very dedicated to this cause.

The volunteers…

The Rotary Club of Aligarh sponsors 34 booths and Aligarh City, 17 booths.

At the base camp of the Aligarh City club…

No, Linda and Mr. Gulati are not flipping off the camera.  They are showing their pinky marks, which I will explain in a bit.)

We visited perhaps a dozen booths today.  We actually gave very few drops, generally just to one child each at each of the booths.  I personally gave drops to only about ten children.  The volunteers took care of most of them.  It seems we were there more for moral support for the volunteers and to play a diplomatic role.  We got our picture taken a lot.  I was thinking there would be a lot more “hands-on” activity on our part, but even so, it was an experience I can never, ever forget.

I managed to embarrass myself, as usual.  The very first drops I gave, I squeezed the bottle too hard and the end popped off.  The whole bottle emptied into the child’s mouth and over her face.  I’m told that over-immunizing cannot hurt the child, but it certainly came as a shock to her.  Poor kid.

We walked the streets of Aligarh and got to see the people very up close and personal.


As in the Shahjamal resistance area, the children flocked all around us.  With my digital camera, I could take their picture and then show it to them on the screen immediately.  This was totally amazing to them.  I wonder if some of them have ever seen a camera before.  The crowd of children wanting to see themselves quickly grew.  Once they saw one picture, they would continue to follow us and every time one of us put our camera up to our eye they would jostle each other trying to get in front of the camera.  It was pretty funny but made it very difficult to take a picture of anything else with all these children trying to get in front of the camera.  Linda didn’t have a digital camera, which completely confused them.  They were grabbing at Linda’s camera so much trying to find where the picture was, she finally had to put it away.

We had to be really careful about taking pictures though.  Many of the Muslims have religious beliefs that forbid being photographed, so we always had to make sure we asked if it was okay before shooting.  This became apparent after the first few times we pulled the camera out and women were covering up or quickly moving out of the frame or putting their hands up in front of their faces.  Of course, many of the Muslim women were already covered.

As we walked through the streets, there was rotting trash everywhere.  Occasionally, we would see people raking it up into little piles and the dogs and the cows would feed from them.  Sometimes they would burn the piles.  We saw a water buffalo-drawn cart going through the streets followed by three or four men picking up the small piles and throwing them into the cart.  I guess this was their trash collector.  I wonder if you rake them into piles on certain days.  My trash collection day is Thursday.

The poverty level was disheartening.  The filth in the streets was thick.  As we walked through their lives, many greeted us with smiles and waves.  Others stared straight-faced or scowled.  The young people were so incredibly beautiful, the old, less.  But in spite of their poverty, these people are happy.  I guess I am projecting my expectations on them and assuming they are miserable.  They are existing and that is enough for them.

© 2011 Jim Parson

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Wow, glad to see you got caught up with posting. Now all I need is some time for more reading. I absolutely love all the pictures you've been posting along the way Jim, thanks so much for sharing this!

Posted 9 Years Ago

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Added on April 10, 2011
Last Updated on April 10, 2011
Tags: India, Rotary, travel, polio, immunizations


Jim Parson
Jim Parson

Los Angeles, CA

I have been a banker for the past 28 years, but my dream has always been to write. I thought maybe it was time to give it a try. I don't think I'm the greatest writer, but I think I can tell a prett.. more..

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