Twenty years of fighting polio in India

Shri K. Sankarnarayanan, governor of Maharastra, India, administers the polio vaccine to a child being held by former Trustee Ashok Mahajan.

Shri K. Sankaranarayanan, governor of Maharashtra, India, administers the polio vaccine to a child being held by former Trustee Ashok Mahajan. Looking on is the governor’s wife (left) and Rajashree Birla, who has contributed more than US$7 million for polio eradication.

By former Foundation Trustee Ashok Mahajan

Since 1993, I have been deeply involved in the polio eradication program, Rotary’s top priority, both as a member of Rotary and in various leadership positions. I have many strong memories of the challenges, triumphs and setbacks we’ve faced along the way as we pursued ending this crippling disease in my country.

One thing I will always remember is the extensive efforts we made to build goodwill and acceptance of polio immunization in the Muslim community and among religious leaders. Continue reading

How your gift to The Rotary Foundation changes lives

Construction on a new school in Masaya, Nicaragua. Photo courtesy Leonor Fraser

Construction on a new school in Masaya, Nicaragua. Photo courtesy Leonor Fraser

By Rotary staff

Leonor Fraser and other members of her Rotary club arrived in Masaya, Nicaragua, ready to deliver shoes to the elementary schoolchildren and play with them.

It immediately became apparent that the school, located near a diesel plant, had bigger problems. The plant emitted pollutants into the air, which made the children and teachers lethargic, and the cracked building had no sanitation facilities. Fraser had difficulty breathing during her visit. Continue reading

Santa’s helper leverages dollars for polio eradication

Santa, aka Rotarian Bruce Templeton, in Canada.

Santa paying a visit to a children’s hospital in Canada.

By Bruce Templeton, a member of the Rotary Club of St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada (Editor’s note: this post first published 10 May, 2013.)

While I know that RI President Ron Burton’s theme is “Engage Rotary: Change Lives,” I would like to add the thought that we can multiply the dollars we raise engaging Rotary before we turn them over to those who change lives.

I live in St. John’s Newfoundland, Canada. I am a Rotarian but also a good friend of Santa Claus and he and I have travelled together for 34 years. Continue reading

Eager for the polio vaccine in Ethiopia

A mother seeks the polio vaccine for her child during immunization activities in southern Ethiopia. Photo courtesy of John Adams

A mother seeks the polio vaccine for her child during immunization activities in southern Ethiopia. Photo courtesy of John Adams

By John Adams, a member of the Rotary Club of Somerset-Pulaski County, Kentucky, USA

At first, I thought the pull on my volunteer’s vest was one of the 50 or so village children who were following us, touching me to see if I was indeed real, because I was so different from them. But this was more than a child’s curious touch; it was a pull that caused me to lose my balance.

I turned in the direction of the pull to find it was not a playful child; but a determined mother, holding an infant. I will never forget her expression. I had no idea what she said in her dialect of Amharic or the local tribal language, but I knew exactly what she wanted. Continue reading

Traveling down a rough road with polio

131107_birdBy Patrick J. Bird, polio survivor and author of A Rough Road

During the polio epidemic of 1940, I contracted polio and became ensconced for 19 months in a “reconstruction home” far from my family. I was only 4 years old, and since all the other children were at least twice my age, I was initially placed in a room by myself instead of one of the dormitories.

Enduring loneliness, painful treatments, and lengthy, frustrating rehabilitation sessions, I learned to overcome my fears and to prevail Continue reading

A response to the polio outbreak in Syria

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By Bob Scott, chair of Rotary’s International PolioPlus Committee

Polio was recently confirmed in Syria, a country that has been free of this disabling and potentially fatal disease since 1999. In response, health authorities in Syria and neighboring countries have launched urgent, large-scale, multi-country immunization campaigns to ensure that every child is reached with the polio vaccine.

Rotary and its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative are working together with local health authorities to activate the outbreak response. Continue reading

Remembering Jonas Salk on the anniversary of his birthday

Kurt Sipolski

Kurt Sipolski

By Kurt Sipolski, freelance writer, polio survivor, and resident of Palm Desert, California, USA 

Years ago, I founded and published a magazine for homeowners and designers, San Francisco Gentry magazine. 

It was easy to target advertisers. While homeowners don’t necessarily eat out more than renters, they sure as heck hire builders and landscapers more often.

One time, I called a fire contractor to sell him an ad. I had used him when an apartment in a building I owned caught fire. After refreshing his memory of who I was, he replied, “Oh, I  remember. You’re the cripple.”  Continue reading

Support grows for Miles to End Polio

John and Marga Hewko training for the El Tour de Tucson

RI General Secretary John Hewko and his wife, Marga.

By John Hewko, Rotary International General Secretary

For more than 20 years, Rotary members and their friends have worked tirelessly to keep our promise to the world’s children to eradicate polio. We’re almost there, but as in any race, the last mile is the hardest.

To honor those who strive to reach this historic goal of eradicating a disease for only the second time in history, I will again be joining Rotary members in the Tucson, Arizona, area on 23 November to raise money for Rotary’s Polio Plus Program by riding 111 miles in El Tour de Tucson. (Listen to Hewko’s interview with ESPN Radio in Tucson, ArizonaContinue reading

Why I became an ambassador for polio eradication

Archie Panjabi addresses the 2013 Rotary International Convention.

Archie Panjabi addresses the 2013 Rotary International Convention.

By Archie Panjabi, Emmy-winning actor and celebrity ambassador in Rotary’s “This Close” public awareness campaign

When I was 10 years old, I had an opportunity to stay in my parents’ homeland, India, for a period of two years. Coming from England, it was a huge cultural shock. But it was also a great experience for me to learn about my heritage.

One of the things that affected me deeply was my daily walk to school –  I would witness children crawling on the streets. Some of them were on planks of wood with wheels and just rolling themselves along. When the traffic would stop they’d knock on the car doors, begging for money.  Continue reading