We arrived in India after enduring a 20+ hour flight, but the flight is nothing compared to life every day for the children we came to meet.
On our first day here, our tiny band from Vitamin Angels, led by Howard Schiffer, along with Bridge of Hope, led by Prince Jeyaraj, provided vitamins and anti-parasitics to kids and prenatal vitamins to pregnant women – 3000 in all — in an unauthorized Muhundapur slum. Life there is vibrant and often desperate — an incredible community. More than 1000 were waiting when we arrived. Looking out over the sea of bright colors, I spoke to the throng of children (with a microphone and through a translator of course), and told them a secret most kids in America don’t know: There is hidden power in bright colored vegetables and fruits. When you see something red, orange, yellow, or green, treasure it. Keep your eye out for carrots, yams, tomatoes, peppers, greens, or any that have these colors as a secret code that they could read.
Before, given the choice, they would reach first for the rice or roti — the white, brown, tan, or beige. Now they were chanting, “We know the secret.” They were excited.
I don’t know that I’ve ever shaken so many hands in one day. Each asked me my name. They thrilled when I looked them in the eye and asked for their name as we shook hands.
As the doctor in the group, I spoke with individual mothers and examined the sick children. I’ve never examined so many kids in such a brief span as we did today. The interactions were short but powerful for each of us — doctor, caregiver, and patient. I’m looking forward to another packed day tomorrow.
These families are so wonderful, and this group is doing such powerful good. I’m privileged that my son Garrett and I get to play a part in the effort.
I’m already in love with the teeming, diverse, colorful, fragrant, flower-strewn land of India and its people.