My Rotary Hospital Experience in Salem, Tamil Nadu, India

19 Sep

IMG-20150722-WA0030When I applied for the Rotary youth exchange I could have never imagined in what  way Rotary would have an impact on my life, my career and future. When I look in the world I see so much poverty, cruelty and destruction that sometimes I wonder where all the good is gone. Over and over again Rotary manages to rebuild my faith in humanity.

For me it all started with an exchange year in District 9910 in New Zealand in 2012. Me, a 15 year old girl back then, flew from Switzerland around the world to New Zealand, a country I called home within the next year. I not only discovered completely new sides of me but also found another family and friends, a second life at the other side of the planet.

I was lucky enough that during my year the district conference was held on Norfolk Island, the home of PDG Lindsay Ford, a man who had impressed me with his big heart and humble nature. A little while after the conference I met PDG Lindsay again when he came to speak to my incredible host club RC of Henderson as a guest speaker. He came to talk about his time in India, where he traveled to assist on the national polio eradication day a while back. Somehow he managed to plant a seed in my heart with his speech and a fascination for the country of India.

After returning home to Switzerland I soon realized that I needed to know more about this Polio programme and that I wanted to help. I contacted PDG Lindsay and offered my time and hands for two months after graduating to  go to India and help with the eradication of polio. PDG Lindsay was extremely helpful and got me in touch with PDG Puru from district 2980 in India. I soon realized that my help was not needed  as Rotary had already done an amazing and world changing job of eradicating polio in India.

This did not reduce my fascination for India and interest in medicine. Somehow – and looking back at it – it seems like a miracle to me, PDG Puru got me in touch with PDG Bala and the idea was born of visiting India, not to help eradicate Polio, but to visit hospitals and learn about Indian medicine. Somehow my interest for medicine in India was appreciated and PDG Bala and PDG Puru decided to help me.

A few months later, with no idea what to expect I was standing at Bangalore airport and was welcomed by PDG Bala. I couldn’t believe the great hospitality I was welcomed with and the help and patience they brought towards me, someone who had not been in India before and needed to learn a lot about their culture and lifestyle. Thanks to Rotary and the amazing men in District 2982 and especially the help of PDG Puru and PDG Bala and his friends from Rotary Club of Salem Midtown I got to experience medicine in India, in a way that no organization or any volunteer programme could have done it better.

IMG-20150725-WA0037image3I was hosted by different Rotarian families who took me in and cared for me as if I was their own child. I was surprised by the connections I was able to build up in this short amount of time. For almost a month I visited hospitals, each for one week and was hosted near by. Thanks to Bala’s connections and his friends all doors in the hospitals were opened for me and I saw surgeries, deliveries, procedures, emergencies, treatments, laboratories, pharmacies – everything that interested me. Everyday was for me a new chance to learn, not only about injections and sterile hand washing but also about the culture of the Indians in Tamil Nadu.  The best day was by far when I heard that I had passed my entrance exam in Switzerland, got a seat to study medicine at the University of Basel in Switzerland and only a few hours later was able to assist an appendix surgery. Words can not describe how surreal this felt for me.


I wanted to go to India to help out and give something back to Rotary, but somehow they managed once again to change my life in a way that didn’t only give me the confirmation that medicine is what I want to do but also taught me more about myself and about  a country that’s full of mystery and diversity. And India is full of amazingly kind-hearted people, Rotarians and non-Rotarians who don`t care about the amount of effort and money they have to invest to change someone`s life and make someone smile.

I left India knowing that I will return one day, to actually practice medicine and learn more about their practices and lives.
It was important for me to share this story with you. Because it’s the proof that you don’t need a programme or instructions from someone to do amazing things in this world. Thanks to the connections of Rotarians all around the world my summer consisted of hospitals, surgeries and South Indian food and I could not have been happier about it. I want to thank  everyone who has helped me and made this trip a reality for me and everyone who helps every day in small or big ways to make the world a better place. I hope that I will be able to do my part one day too.

One Response to “My Rotary Hospital Experience in Salem, Tamil Nadu, India”

  1. Bala September 19, 2015 at 11:49 am #

    Reblogged this on shanakyar.

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