Rotaractors go all out against polio in Pakistan
A Rotaractor in Karachi marks the pinkie finger of a child as a record of vaccination against polio during Pakistan’s Subnational Immunization Days in early July. Photo by Atya Khan Rana
Six Rotaract clubs, 69 Rotaractors, and 687 hours of work over five days added up to a big victory for thousands of children in Karachi, Pakistan.
The Rotaractors, joined by other volunteers, helped immunize 4,276 children under age five against polio in the city’s densely populated Kemari Town.
Organized at the urging of Past District Governor Abdul Haiy Khan, Pakistan’s National PolioPlus Committee chair, the Rotaract-led effort took place during Pakistan’s Subnational Immunization Days (SNIDs) from 1 to 4 July. Teams of Rotaractors and volunteers went from house to house giving children drops of vaccine, marking the fingers of those immunized, chalking the doors of houses to indicate families covered, and recording information on tally sheets.
At times, their work took them on foot through labyrinths of back alleys and across dug-out roads, challenging them to reach every household. During the project, team members communicated with one another by sending text messages on their mobile phones, guiding and spurring each other on to work efficiently.
"There were many friendly competitions to see which team could cover the most houses, and two teams reached 150 houses [on day three]," the Rotaractors wrote in a report. "By the end of the day, each team member looked ready to collapse, but each one was begging, 'Can we do just a few more houses?'"
On 5 July, the project’s last day, the Rotaractors and volunteers reviewed their records to identify children who had been missed during the SNIDs and then followed up with those children to ensure they received the vaccine. When some teams ran short of vaccine, project coordinators Fayez Jangda and Nayel Noorani, of the Rotaract clubs of Karachi Karsaz and Karachi Cosmopolitan, collected extra vials from other teams and distributed them to the teams in need. Finally, no more vials could be found, and doctors sent in fresh supplies so the teams could keep working.
At the project’s end, the Rotaractors thanked all the non-Rotaract volunteers who had turned out to participate. Inspired by the Rotaractors’ example of service, many of them expressed interest in joining a Rotaract club.
Maheen Allawala, a member of the Karachi Karsaz club, summed up the project: "It was truly a great experience, and we are looking forward to more work in the upcoming polio drives."