By Nosherwan Khalil Khan, a member of the Rotary Club of Rawalpindi, Punjab, Pakistan
In May, we held a special play to promote polio awareness in Shamsabad, Rawalpindi, with the help of the Pakistan National Polio Plus Committee and the Rawalpindi Arts Council.
The play portrays a young woman at an engagement party who becomes the laughing stock of the celebration when she cannot dance like the other young women. Her left leg is crippled from the effects of contracting polio as a child.
At the cruel remarks from her peers, the girl, Kiran, bursts into tears and proclaims “It is not my fault. My parents are responsible because they did not give me the polio vaccine. I can never live a normal life and cannot enjoy the company of friends. No one will marry me.”
Her mother tells the gathering that it is, indeed, her fault. “Please don’t ridicule my child. It is a burden on me, not on anyone else. But don’t repeat our mistake, give the polio vaccine to your children so they will not have to suffer in this way.”
The play ends with the boy who was set to be engaged to another woman choosing to marry Kiran instead, after overhearing the conversation.
The performance is aimed at sensitizing the audience to the dangers of polio, and the peril of not letting your children receive the vaccine. It is perhaps the first attempt to raise awareness in the city since the World Health Organization’s vaccination recommendations for travellers from polio-infected countries.
Our district governor handed out certificates to the artists following their fine performance of the play, written by the former resident director of the art council, Naheed Manzoor.
We would strongly encourage other clubs to find creative ways to promote polio awareness. Two drops of vaccine can protect a child for life. What can be more important than that?