Although this photo looks fake, it is indeed real. Ben and I on the River Ganga on our morning boat ride in Varanasi.
Sunrise over the Ganges. One great thing about all the smog and pollution in India is these fantastic sunrises.
The view of Varanasi from our boat
People doing their morning 'puja' in the Ganges.
At a mothers meeting (Mata Batek) facilitated by UNICEF. The woman in black is Shamin and is the community coordinator for this community. Here she is using the picture flipbook to describe symptoms of different diseases to the mothers.
Children on the opposite roof-top at the mother's meeting. You'll notice one in the corner doing a poo on the rooftop and the rubbish in the adjacent lot- this is as the CMC is describing the importance of sanitation and hygiene to protect against disease.
At the community meeting in another area. All the children in this area went to school and it was also in this area that the mosque did regular announcements on polio immunisation days.
This is Domeshwrir and her 3 year old daughter Ragindra who live at a brick kiln site. Her daughter was vaccinated against polio by heath workers who visit this high risk site.
This is Domshwrir's home where she lives with her husband and two children for 4-5 months of the year. It was about 2.5 metres by 3 metres. There was a whole row of these huts with 64 families living like this and working in the kiln.
Another mother's group all living around the weaving looms. This was a mixture of women with children, pregnant women, grandparents and young women. The agenda covered everything from safe pregnancy, institutional delivery, breastfeeding, diarrhoea management and the importance of vaccinating children against polio. The women asked lots of questions and one girl told me that everything she learnt at these meetings she then went home and told her family and friends. Good stuff!
In another area of Varanasi, community workers go door-to-door to visit families with young children or expectant mothers. In this family they discovered a new born baby only a month old. He didn't have a name yet and hadn't been vaccinated. But the mother knew that there was vaccinations tomorrow and will take him to be vaccinated then. Her other two children are completely vaccinated.
UNICEF Community mobilisation coordinators. On the left is Vidhya who has been working as a CMC for 6 years in this area.
On the right in the green is Sunni. She is in 2nd grade at school and her favourite subjects are maths, followed by Hindi, Urdu and English. When she grows up she wants to be a doctor. This family are nomads, living in an unused lot which they will have to vacate when the owner turns up. They have made the dwelling you see in the background with bricks (no mortar), mud and some plastic sheeting for a roof.
Another group at high risk of polio is people living in the cities slums. Here CMC's visit a mother (on the right) and check her child has had all his vaccinations. The mother was well aware of the importance of vaccinating her child and of the follow up vaccinations.
These are the living conditions in this slum. On the plus side there was a communal toilet, so no open defecation. This was the first well we had seen in use though- most places have hand pumps that gt water from much deeper underground and are therefore much safer. Quite a bit of that dirty water on the ground is probably flowing straight back into the well.
My wonderful UNICEF hosts. Manoj Singh (left) and Sadek Raza (right), who are district coordinators of UNICEFs polio work in the Varanasi area.
Last but by no means least, Bens majestic beard.