Banchory Rotarian on polio jab mission

John Kaighin prepares for his trip to India
John Kaighin prepares for his trip to India

A Deeside Rotarian is preparing to head to India to take part in a mass polio vaccination programme.

John Kaighin, secretary of Rotary Club of Banchory Ternan, is about to join 90 Rotary volunteers from the UK and Ireland in the 10-day mission.

They will team up with local members of the organisation and health agencies who will immunise millions of young children in the country’s hardest-hit areas.

It is part of Rotary’s long-running End Polio Now campaign.

Mr Kaighin will be working alongside local volunteers in Delhi, Kolkata, Bhiwadi, Amritsar and surrounding high-risk villages.

The task will include house-to-house visits for impoverished families who can’t travel to vaccination booths.

Rotary officials say the extra help makes a huge difference to protecting India from the crippling and, at times, fatal disease.

Mr Kaighin, 84, explained: “Rotarians and other volunteers go out twice a year to help Rotary clubs in the area reach as many children as possible.

“There are other regular vaccination events but these larger National Immunisation Days (NID) draw huge numbers of children and families.

“Visiting Rotarians have a curiosity value which attracts children in the slums and remote villages who do not meet many British people.”

He continued: “India is polio free but this does not mean our job is over.

“We want to keep India’s children safe from polio. Rotary will keep immunising every child to spare them from a life of

disabilities and pain.”

Mr Kaighin said the visit would be difficult.

He added: “Although hugely rewarding, this will not be an easy trip.

“We will see startling sights of poverty, people literally in gutters trying to make a living and people who have been crippled by polio and can barely crawl let alone walk.

“The knowledge that we are helping others to have a better life, through End Polio Now and other active Rotary projects, keeps everyone motivated.”

India has been declared polio free for six years, but the threat exists of re-infection.

Mr Kaighin will be accompanied by three other Scots Rotarians - from Aberdeen, Orkney and Fife.