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BIG DREAMS ON SMALL WHEELS

It was the last day of school and I could not wait for the day to get over. The next day I was going on a trip to India to spend my summer vacation with my grand parents. It was my first time going alone and my excitement was only matched by my parents concern. I loved to do fun but dangerous things and so my parents told me over and over again to stay out of trouble. The next day, my parents dropped me off at the airport. After clearing security, I took an airport transit train to my terminal and finally boarded the plane. It was a 24 hour trip and after what seemed like an eternity, the plane landed at the Chennai airport. I was shaken out of my sleepy mode when I saw my grandparents. They had been preparing for my arrival for a long time and they took me home and showed me the room I was going to stay in. They had seen my room in Frisco, Texas and had taken every care to make this room look just like the one back home. I was so happy and gave them a tight hug and finally went to bed. The next day my sleep was ended by what sounded like a circus. I came out and I sawall my cousins waiting eagerly for me to wake up. They had planned a lunch in a restaurant and so all of us got into a large car and headed to town. On our way back, we got caught in heavy traffic. "BOOM! CRASH! THUD!" Stunned by the loud noise, I turned around and saw that two cars had crashed into each other and toppled over. Half an hour later we were still stuck in the same place and I asked my uncle Venkat "Why haven't the ambulances arrived yet? What


about the injured people in those cars?" My uncle said that the ambulances might not be able to get through the traffic because they are too big and the roads were too narrow and crowded. My cousin Teju added that the population of India was so high that many accidents could take place at the same time and the small number of ambulances were not going to be enough for all the injured. "Why can't they get more ambulances?" I asked and my uncle repliedthat a country like India could never afford to buy all the ambulances it needs. "I wish there was another way out" I said with a sigh as I looked at the crashed cars one more time. Finally after a long wait, we reached home. That night I was restless in bed, still thinking about my strange first day. In the morning I woke up and an idea struck me like a lightning attracted to a metal rod. I asked my grandparents if I could call my cousins over and they agreed. When they arrived, I proudly announced that I had a great dream last night. "Did you get to ride a horse?" asked my cousin Sneha. "Did you get to visit the TajMahal?" asked Teju. "Did you get to ride on a rocket ship?" shouted my cousin Shruti. "No!, No!, and No!" I replied. Then "WHAT IS IT?" they added with a confused look on their faces. "I dreamt that we kids could save the people injured in accidents" I said and the excited expression in my cousin's faces disappeared in an instant. My neighbor who heard me laughed his head off. "Even very intelligent doctors and engineers have not solved this complicated problem. And you think you kids know how to solve it?" He asked sarcastically. Everyone joined him in laughter but I was not discouraged.


The next day I visited a local hospital. I saw a doctor come out of the emergency room and I asked her what an injured person needs the most to survive. "Fancy machines? Or is it giant casts? Stitches? Or may be blood transfusion machines?" She was surprised at my questions and replied with a smile. "Mostly, when people get injured, they start losing blood. When the ambulances don't get to them quickly, they bleed a lot and this leads to complications. In fact, in most cases, quick first aid that stops or slows down bleeding is all that is needed to save a person in an accident" she said. I was surprised by the answer. The solution seemed very simple, yet the daily newspaper reported many people dying every day in accidents. The wheels in my brain started spinning on my walk back to my grandparents' house. I had mixed emotions. There was a voice telling me that I could solve the problem but it was drowned by the loud objections of so many people around me. I knew that something big could come out of some one really small like me. That night, when everything was quiet, I could clearly hear the positive voice in my head. I knew I should not give up. Next morning, all my cousins gathered in my grandparent's house and we started brain storming over cookies and milk. We soon settled on a swing in my grandparent's front porch and started discussing possible solutions. I told them what the doctor at the hospital had told me. We were all lost in our thoughts when Teju broke the silence. "Even if we had the first aid kits, how would we every reach the accident victims?" He asked. "The injured person may be miles away stuck in traffic" I added. "We need something that can get through traffic and carry first aid boxes. Why don't we go to the closest


intersection? There is bound to be traffic. Let us see which vehicle can get past the traffic easily"Sneha suggested. In a flash we ran to the nearest intersection. Sneha was right! The road was packed with cars. Suddenly out of nowhere, a man on a bicycle started weaving through the traffic. "That is it!" I shouted. The bicycle is cheap, fairly fast in traffic, can carry a first aid box, was "green" and most importantly, could be operated by kids. We borrowed my grandfather's mobile phone and put the phone number on posters. "Call 220 if you or some one is injured in an accident and needs help" the posters on the intersection read. We raised some money from our family to buy a good first aid box and an old bicycle. The next day morning, the first call came. "We have an injured pedestrian, please help!" a desperate voice said on the phone. Soon the injured person saw a girl with two ponytails on a bicycle come towards him. Everyone started to laugh. I took my first aid kit and calmly dressed the injured man's wounds. I stopped the bleeding and waited for the real ambulance to show up. The medical people in the ambulance congratulated me on my quick thinking and told everyone that I had probably saved the man's life. My neighbor, who had mocked me earlier, was watching the whole incident. He walked over to me and gave me a pat on the back. "You kids are really great" he said and promised to write about us in the local newspaper he worked for. Sure enough, the new paper article made us famous. Donations poured in for more first aid boxes and bicycles, and inspired by our work, we had several kids call up and volunteer their services. We now had enough people and bicycles to cover a large part of town.


Over the next two months, we worked tirelessly and helped many people everyday. Soon summer was over and it was time for me to return home to Frisco, Texas. The local hospital helped my cousins and friends host a surprise party for me. Everyone thanked me for my help. They said that accidents had been a problem that had been around for many years without ever being addressed. Because I believed it was possible to fix it, I worked hard to realize my dream. Our small attempt inspired the entire town to take notice and join us in this effort and even big people followed the example that the kids had set. When I reached Frisco, I showed my parents the newspaper article about everything that we kids had achieved in India. They were proud of me and promised me that I could spend every summer vacation in India. I realized that big dreams can come even from small people. And if some one worked hard to defeat all the challenges, it inspires other people to also follow. And soon one persons dream can become a whole town's activity. I could not wait for my next summer vacation. I went to the calendar that was stuck on my fridge and marked the next summer months. I wrote 'Dream time' on top of that and began the countdown.


Big Dreams on Small Wheels