Our heart is known by the path we walk.
We held the children’s hands. We looked into their forlorn eyes. We sang to them. Some children cried anyway. We understood they were afraid. We all are afraid at times.
We were nurses and student nurses from Walla Walla University-Portland, Oregon campus. We raveled around the globe to tribal areas of NE Assam, India. Temperatures rose to 111 degrees Fahrenheit. Electricity was unreliable. We appreciated times when fans and lights worked. We experienced a new level of sweatiness and comfort with looking a mess. We gulped down warm bottled water to stay hydrated. We ate a lot of beans and rice.
During our 17 day trip we gave immunizations to more than a thousand school children, teachers, parents and community. We did some health teaching such as how to brush teeth and wash hands. Commitment to the important tasks at hand got us through.
Dying of typhoid, hepatitis, and meningitis—these are reality in rural India. We crossed those fears off their list. We brought hope for better health. Without our help, vaccinations were not available to these poorest of poor people.
We knew from our religion that we are our brothers’ keepers. Our experience deepened this concept for us. We found our brothers to be just like us…sometimes happy and other times sad. We shared a desire to be friends. They saw family and school as the center of their lives as it is for us. The children loved to sing and dance. We sang and danced with them. They laughed when we performed the chicken dance.
Happiness comes from doing good deeds for others. We returned exhausted but knowing we made a difference in the lives of many children, teachers and families.