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Temples and Tears, a Testimony from Nepal
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Jason Smith
 
October 9, 2008

By 9 AM, the heat and humidity were already extreme, as we made our way down the dusty streets of Dhangadi, in far western Nepal.

Jasbin Shob, 13 months old, waits in her mother’s arms to receive a measles vaccination. She is the morning’s first child to receive the vaccination, which will protect many children against the deadly disease. Jason Smith/International Federation.
Jasbin Shob, 13 months old, waits in her mother’s arms to receive a measles vaccination. She is the morning’s first child to receive the vaccination, which will protect many children against the deadly disease. Jason Smith/International Federation.

A young boy watches with trepidation as a Red Cross volunteer prepares his measles vaccination in Dhangadi, Nepal. His parents are thankful that they will be able to watch their son grow without the threat of measles. Jason Smith/International Federation
A young boy watches with trepidation as a Red Cross volunteer prepares his measles vaccination in Dhangadi, Nepal. His parents are thankful that they will be able to watch their son grow without the threat of measles. Jason Smith/International Federation

We walked past shop-keepers opening their stalls, cattle and goats lying lazily on the roadside, and school kids staring in our direction while on their way to school.

We saw parents, too, carrying their youngest children in the direction of the small Hindu temple grounds where free measles vaccinations would soon be available to them.

Upon our arrival, more than fifty people had already gathered, anticipating what was to come.

Local volunteers from the Nepal Red Cross Society and other partners were eager to see their plans for the day come to life. Parents were eager to see their children made safer, and the children themselves seemed worried about the process that lay ahead.

As an American and a father, I was proud to be a part of this lifesaving vaccination effort, sponsored by the Measles Initiative, a partnership of the American Red Cross, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF, the UN Foundation and the World Health Organization and carried out by the Ministry of Health in Nepal, the Nepal Red Cross Society and others.

By 9:30, an orderly line had been formed, the volunteers were all in place, and the first child to be vaccinated that morning -- 13 month old Jasbin Shob -- had been selected.

Each child underwent a two part vaccination process, first receiving an oral polio vaccine, followed by an injection. In the case of most of the more than 100 children vaccinated that hot morning at this location and similar stations throughout Dhangadi, there were tears.

But those tears faded quickly.

The parents were grateful for the opportunity to make their families safer and they came away from the temple that morning knowing that the Measles Initiative had made a difference in their lives.

The Measles Initiative is a partnership committed to reducing measles deaths globally. Launched in 2001, the Initiative—led by the American Red Cross, the United Nations Foundation, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF and the World Health Organization—provides technical and financial support to governments and communities on vaccination campaigns worldwide. To date, the Initiative has supported the vaccination of more than 500 million children in 50 countries helping reduce measles deaths by more than 68% globally and 91% in Africa (compared to 2000). To learn more or make a donation, visit www.measlesinitiative.org.


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