This is a great example of how the world is working to become polio-free and counteracting the reputation of city that has one of the worst in the world.
Karachi is a town of 22 million (I didn’t count them all but that is the vibe of most) in the permanently hot reaches of Southern Pakistan. In parts it is a bit lawless and like any big city has its realm of problems.
In this tangled mess of what seemed to be organised chaos I was very fortunate to see and meet a lot of the positive features and people in Karachi. There are places tall skinny white people should not go so I didn’t and then you have the rest of the majority of the city which was a welcoming, ‘hot’spitable (meaning hot temperature and in hospitality – actually it sounds more like hot spit but anyway…) and dynamic place.
I was extremely fortunate to have been adopted by a number of people for my time in Karachi as I have written about in previous posts but I must send a quick shout out to Tahira and her household who received a call after my arrival saying we have a guy here from Australia who needs a place to stay for a week and we’ve chosen you! Luckily for Tahira and I it worked out to be a beautiful culture exchange and very productive for social justice and polio advocacy and awareness – a great team! And she fed me like my own mother!
One specific experience I had in Karachi was to visit the entry point into the city. Here there is a big arch and sign saying welcome to Karachi. They then stop all vehicles for a military check but also for the past while people are also greeted by teams of polio vaccinators who generally focus on the busses.
As each bus pulls up for their security check pairs of vaccinators jump on the bus and ask to see children under the age of five and see of they have a ‘Purple Pinkie’ – indicating they have received a polio vaccine in the past 7 days. If not they then offer the vaccine for that child, free of cost, administer and give them a ‘Purple Pinkie’ to show they are now free from the crippling disease of polio and push the world a little closer to be eradicated of the second human disease in history! Cool eh!
They folks go 24/7 and have seen the outbreak stop as is possible in the slum communities of Karachi and also in the areas where the people are coming to Karachi or returning after their visit.
For the rest of the overview of Karachi just have a look at the pictures! Watch your back a little in this town but also know the majority of the folks here are wonderful, hospitable and friendly as we are in any place in the world!
Thank you Karachi and the people of Karachi!