When Rotarian Stanley Malcolm, of Linwood, heard that his local Rotary Foundation was asking for volunteers to travel to India to help immunize people there against polio for India's national immunization day, he immediately raised his hand.
"(We helped) 172 million children in two days," Malcolm said. "One day they had tents and clinics set up, the following day (we went) door to door. Both were eye-opening experiences."
The diagnosis of polio in India was given to someone on Jan. 13, 2011, according to World Health Organization. In order for a country to be deemed polio-free, WHO "regions" within a country "need to not register a case of wild polio for three years in the presence of high quality surveillance," according to the WHO website.
On March 26-27, a commission of experts will determine the polio status for the regions in India.
"We were supposed to be (in India) for the announcement that it's polio free from the World Health Organization," Malcolm said. "But they rescheduled that event until the end of March, because they wanted to be completely three years free."
Rotarians from around the country - Malcolm is a member of the Somers Point Rotary - met up and spent 11 days in India,
The journey took 15 hours and a connecting flight from Delhi to Mumbai.
In all, Malcolm said, the group traveled close to 24 hours to reach their destination.
While they were there, the American Rotarians teamed up with the Rotary Foundation in India and traveled to different villages to participate in Immunization Day, visited a factory that produces prosthetic limbs, as well as experienced the culture and effects that polio has had in India.
People with polio are at risk for losing limbs, Malcolm said, so the group donated 25 prosthetics from a prosthetics company in Jaipur, India, to benefit those victims.
In participating in Immunization Day, the Rotarians helped to administer the vaccination for polio - two drops of the vaccine - into a child's mouth.
The Rotarian Foundation in India, Malcolm said, is very involved in humanitarianism throughout the country.
"(The Indian people) were very receptive," Malcolm said. "Over there, Rotary has done some wonderful things for the country of India, and the people respect that yellow rotary vest."
Malcolm said that although the trip to India was a fast-paced and somewhat exhausting one, he wouldn't change his experience, and would certainly return.
"It was a life-changing experience," he said.
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