A Rotaract member in Pune watches polio drops being administered to a young child during a national immunization day.

By Jigneshh Karria, president, Rotary Club of Pune Baner, India

Seeing a twinkle in the eye of a baby you have helped gives you a happy feeling. When you see someone with a disability run or dance, you get inspired. My conviction in community service was strengthened when I realized how Rotary enables us to touch lives in a million different ways. During my presidency, I vowed to participate in as many Rotary signature projects as possible. One of those involved Rotary’s top priority, the eradication of polio. Rotary members are a huge reason India is polio-free.

In Pune, we observed a national immunization day on 3 March. Rotary District 3131 joined hands with our municipal government. In association with the Indian Institute of Education and Business Management (IIEBM), my club helped organize volunteers and set up immunization booths three days before.

On the day of the drive, an army of volunteers from the Rotaract club based at the Institute turned out to ensure its resounding success. We all met bright and early at 6:30 a.m. and reviewed our plan for the busy day. We set up 82 booths covering the neighborhoods of Aundh, Baner, Pashan, Bopodi, and some adjoining areas. We were joined by 25 Rotary members and five Rotary Anns. Our job was to assist and participate in administering the polio drops.

The enthusiasm among our young brigade was incredible. We divided into 82 teams. Each team put up posters, distributed promotional materials, and helped doctors and staff at the booths. They watched each baby and mother with care as the drops were administered into tiny mouths. Some of the youth got to administer doses themselves.

Dr. Ganesh Damale, Ward Medical Officer for the Pune Municipal Corporation, and Dr. Maya Lohar, Dhanori Ward Medical Officer, had their teams stationed with vaccine supplies. People from every corner of the city showed up to get their babies immunized. Many applauded our efforts.

Lata Pawar, a young mother with an 18-month-old toddler, asked one Rotaractor if he was a doctor. When the young man corrected her that he was a business management student, she praised Rotary for the great job we are doing.

The Result: 

A total of 11,705 infants received doses of the vaccine. We thank Dr. Bhagwan Pawar and Dr. Rajesh Dighe, Assistant Immunization Officer, for their guidance throughout the drive. We also thank Girish Dapkekar, Assistant Commissioner of Aundh Baner Ward, who helped us coordinate with the medical teams from the Pune Municipal Corporation. Jai Singh Marwaha, Managing Director at IIEBM, Dean Dr. Poonam Nikam, and faculty members Dr. Vishal Bhole, Sandeep Kanse, and Chandrakala Rai, also assisted us.

But it was youth power that made this day possible. We could not have done it without the large Rotaract turnout. Let’s go Rotary!