Each year, it has become a tradition that those on the ROTARY DREAM TEAMS have brought with them, their country flag and their state or province flag, to display at the construction site.  Again, this is a small way to add not only to the pageantry of the project (with flags wafting ion the breeze, adding their colors to the already very colorful saris, worn by the ladies who are working with us from the villages nearby.  This year we had the Indian Flag, the American Flag, the flag from the State of California , the State of New York and the State of Maine.  (Next year, there will be more!)

These flags were displayed on poles of bamboo and small saplings, placed in the ground near the location of the tablet that commemorates our efforts, by naming the dam, naming the group(s) which financially supported the project, and naming the Rotary Club(s) and Districts which helped with financing,  However, each year, there is an anticipation to make sure that our names are also inscribed on …

A FULL DAY'S WORK - February 5, 2019

Yesterday, after the afternoon pooja (prayer ceremony) where we dedicated ourselves and our project, all led by a Hindu priest (Pandit ji) we did not have much time to actually get dirty and work in the "pit" to begin the construction of our tenth water catchment dam in India.  The local laborers were already in place and working hard, so by the time we arrived, following breakfast at our hotel, as well as perhaps a one-hour drive to the dam construction site, we just had to more or less observe and then choose the area where we "fit in" to the rhythm of moving boulders, smaller rocks, basins of sand, basins of massala (mixture) down the line and deposited (dumped) where we were told.

The lines stretched from the piles of massala mix (sand and dry cement) over to the edge and then snaked its way down to where Prakash was teetering on a couple of larger stones which had been tossed down into the pit.  If was a bit of a shock to me  to learn that most of the women f…

MONDAY AFTERNOON POOJA at Dam Site - February 4

If you have never attended or observed the Hindu ritual of pooja (prayer ceremony) you have missed one of the most beautiful and deeply meaningful experiences - summoning God (or many of the Hindu gods) to be present at the ceremony and to shower blessings on the particular event - a marriage, a birthday, or a project such as ours - the construction of a catchment dam which will benefit directly or indirectly between 11,000 and 15,000 villagers within a 10 kilometer distance from the dam location.
We were welcomed by Dinesh Sharma and others with whom we would be working for the next few days, and inside a colorful reception tent, we saw the place where the havan (fire) would be placed. The priest (pandit) from neighboring village was there to lead us in prayer.  

It is difficult to explain fully and adequately the emotions and the pageantry of this ceremony, and I am not sure if I can actually upload a link to videos, but I will try.  Each of our team members was given the blessing …

JAIPUR FOOT BMVSS Clinic - February 2, 2019

Although I had visited this Jaipur Foot Clinic back in 2001, I had not been allowed to observe the entire process.
Let me take you, if I can, through the process a member of the public experiences...

Imagine for a moment that you or a friend was a victim of an accident - perhaps a traffic accident, or falling from a train, etc., and one of your legs was severed, above the knee.  You recovered from the physical trauma, but were scarred for the rest of your life and relegated to walking either with a pair of crutches, or hopping with the use of one crutch, or confined to a wheelchair.  If you were a street person here in India, you might well be tossed aside and forced to live by perching yourself onto a "creeper" (remember the auto mechanics who used to slide under your car - they did so using a flat wooden platform on four wheels, called a creeper.

Fast forward a few years of misery. Then someone told you about a clinic in Delhi, where you could go and be provided with a ne…


INCREDIBLE POSITIVE NEWS - our Global Grant #1982446 - is APPROVED and we are on our way from Delhi, to the Jaipur region of Rajasthan to  a remote village not to far from Dausa, to construct a Water Catchment (check dam) dam to Paidwala Ki Dhani.  Rotary Dream Teams have over the past nine years constructed an equal number of catchment dams, benefiting the villagers nearby our sites, to assist them in creating gravity-fed irrigation systems, in order to increase annual crop yield from one to three!

During this period of time, we have cooperated with the PHD-RDF (Punjab, Haryana, Delhi - Rural Development Foundation) which organization identifies the areas which would benefit considerably from our efforts, in the most arid regions of the State of Rajasthan.  More than ten years ago, while looking for service work projects, I consulted with Sushil Gupta, the current President-nominee of Rotary International.  Sushil is a dear friend to me, and he is also associated with the Rotary Ind…

Oh my, the devastation... January 31, 2019

It has been a few years since my last visit to Kathmandu and surrounding areas, so when we were met this morning to be taken on a tour of various sites within the limits of Kathmandu, I guess I was not prepared to see these historic monuments, temples, palaces, etc, reduced to piles of rubble. I remember back to when the earthquake occured in 2015, and the horrible photos and newsfeeds showed the damage,but untill one actually walks through areas which were destroyed, one cannot comprehend the magnitude of the destruction.

We toured through areas, including the Boudha Stupa - the second largest in Nepal but one of the two largest spherical stupas anywhere.  When entering the complex, for lack of a better word, there is a certain peace which pervades the atmosphere - nobody is in a hurry, the smiling beatific faces of children as well as seniors is infectious.  I am also confident that if I were to stay in this place for a protracted period of time, I might just set aside the "bu…

Meeting with UNICEF officials

Guess my computer skills are totally lacking, as far as moving and saving photos to insert here, but I wanted to report on a meeting I had with UNICEF officials yesterday in Kathmandu.  As most know, UNICEF is a partner with WHO and ROTARY with respect to the efforts for eradication of Polio worldwide.  Through an introduction from Past Rotary International Vice-President, Michael McGovern, I was able to arrange for a meeting at UNICEF South Asia headquarters yesterday.  I invited my Dream Team member, Chuck Bortasch to join me, as well as Nepal National PolioPlus Committee chair, Ratna Man Sakya.  We arrived at the UNICEF headquarters and were welcomed bu Dr. Paul Rutter, Regional Health Adviser and Elke Wisch, a special adviser, both of whom have been working diligently with Mike McGovern and others to finally get a handle on ending this campaign in the near future.  We were also "joined" via Skype, by Harsham Ali Khan, who has been very instrumental in working with  the …