Karaikal is rich in history and tradition. Local Rotarian K. Raghavasamy invited me to his home to learn about the history of Karaikal and the work that’s been done by Rotaplast over the past eight years.
Situated near the southern tip of India, getting from Karaikal to other locations in India that had cleft palate missions going at the time proved too difficult for residents of the area. A key proponent for the mission, Raghavasamy first proposed and then began soliciting, support for a mission that would benefit the children of Karaikal. The groundwork for the first Rotaplast mission began three years prior to the 2004 mission. Three years of effort, coordination, and cutting through government red tape finally paid off and the first mission arrived in January of 2004.
The Tsunami of 2004 hit before the second Rotaplast mission arrived in 2005. Part of the hospital was damaged and wreckage from the pathology lab washed ashore several kilometers away. The Rotary Club of Karaikal continued to prepare for the arrival of Rotaplast while conducting tsunami recovery actions. In coordination with the government, Rotary International, and numerous Rotary clubs around the world, the Rotary club of Karaikal built more than 20 new homes for victims of the tsunami.
A Monument placed in front of more than 20 homes built by the Rotary Club of Karaikal in conjunction with District 2980.
Local Rotarians arranged for a day of sightseeing in the Karaikal area for the team to relax and take a break from surgery. After morning rounds, the team traveled by bus to Chidambaram to visit a Hindu Temple. Taking more a thousand years to construct, The Thillai Natarajah Temple, Chidambaram, is dedicated to Shiva, the Lord of the Dance. Photographs are allowed on the outside of the temple only and all visitors must remove their shoes prior to entering. The paving stones are black and the sun is extremely hot causing team members to actively look for shady spots in which to stand.
A sidewalk shop selling figures of various deities
For our recreation and pleasure, the Rotary Clubs of Chidambaram and Karaikal arranged for motor boat tours of the mangrove swamps near Chadambarum.
No Rotaplast trip would be complete without…..Rotary Meetings! The Rotary Club of Chidambarum graciously moved their meeting date to coincide with the visiting Rotaplast team. We exchanged Rotary club flags and pins and then shared a meal together before driving back to Karaikal for a Rotary meeting with the Rotary Club of Karaikal. In addition to exchanging flags and speeches, the Karaikal Rotarians also brought their families and two birthday cakes to honor Frank Walchak and Allen Shirely who both celebrated their birthdays while on mission.
Lisa Teske, Rotarian from Tri-Cities Coumbia Center Rotary Club exchanges flags with the president of the Rotary Club of Chidabaram.
Frank and Allen cut their cakes while the audience sings the Indian version of Happy Birthday.