LaSalle couple heads to Pakistan to help eradicate polio

A LaSalle couple are embarking on a trip to Pakistan tomorrow, but not for an adventurous holiday. Aruna and Shiva Koushik are on a mission of kindness — to help vaccinate children against polio.

Aruna and Shiva Koushik help administer vaccines

Aruna and Shiva Koushik hold up vials of a polio vaccine they will administer to children in Pakistan. This is their seventh mission to do so, after they took a four year break while Shiva recovered from a cancer diagnosis. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

A LaSalle couple is embarking on a trip to Pakistan tomorrow but not for an adventurous holiday. 

Aruna and Shiva Koushik are on a mission of kindness — to help vaccinate children against polio.

"We have been so successful with eradicating polio across the world and there are only two countries left — Afghanistan and Pakistan," said Aruna. 

The couple has gone to various countries in South Asia to provide polio vaccines in the past. This will be their seventh trip and they said they've seen a tremendous improvement toward eradicating the disease. 

"It's been incredible," said Shiva. "Pakistan so far this year in the whole month of January has had zero cases, which is an achievement." 

The vaccination is administered orally and children only need two drops of medicine, said Aruna. 

"You have hoards of kids coming at you and you have to go fast," she said, adding the vaccine protects the children for life. 

The trip will cost the Koushik's at least $8,000 for their airfare and local transportation, but they are just happy to be able to go again. 

Aruna said her husband was diagnosed with multiple myeloma after their last trip to Pakistan in 2014 and it took him two years to recover. 

"He's recovered well enough to be able to do the trip," she said. 

"I was raring to go," said Shiva. "I'm so thankful for this opportunity."