Library project helps school in India open the door to sustainability

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By Jane Baker Koons, consultant to the Arcot Lutheran Church School Project

When the Rotary Club of Elmbrook, Wisconsin, USA, learned the Yercaud TELC School in Tamil Nadu, India, needed a new library it jumped at the opportunity to help. The school, for children from tribal villages, is one of 97 administered by the Arcot Lutheran Church (ALC) School Project in south India. Continue reading

Wipe out polio, now

Ban Ki-moon

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon immunizes a boy against polio during Angola’s first polio eradication campaign of the year. UN Photo/Quintiliano dos Santos

By Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations

Wild viruses and wildfires have two things in common. If neglected, they can spread out of control. If handled properly, they can be stamped out for good. Today, the flame of polio is near extinction — but sparks in three countries threaten to ignite a global blaze. Now is the moment to act.

During the next two weeks, on two continents, two events offer the chance for a breakthrough. First, the leaders of the world’s largest economies, the G8, congregate at the U.S.presidential retreat at Camp David in rural Maryland. A week later, the world’s ministers of health convene in Geneva. Together, they can push to deliver on an epic promise: to liberate humankind from one of the world’s most deadly and debilitating diseases. Continue reading

India’s fight against polio

Polio drop

K. Sankaranaryanan, right, governor of Maharashtra, India, administers the polio vaccine to a child held by Rotary Foundation Trustee Ashok Mahajan.

By Ashok Mahajan, Rotary Foundation trustee and a member of the Rotary Club of Mulund, Maharashtra, India.

I was deeply privileged and honored to be with the gov­ernor of Maharashtra, K. Sankaranaryanan, in his official residence to launch the National Immunization Day on 19 February.

This is not the first time I have been in such a forum, but this time it was special. Every year, I used to come back from such an event hoping to say, “We Rotarians have conquered polio.” And this year, for India, I was able to.  Continue reading

Rotaract: Inspiring new generations to service

Andrea Tirone

Andrea Tirone is a member of the Rotaract Club of the University of Toronto.

By Andrea Tirone, a member of the Rotaract Club of the University of Toronto, in celebration of World Rotaract Week 12-18 March.

When I joined Rotaract many years ago, our club’s president was phenomenal at getting everyone motivated for the basic health and literacy project we were establishing in Krishnanagar, India.

We began the InspiReacHope project, through a partnership with a local Rotary club and non-governmental organization. It was one of the most enthusiastic, driven, and focused groups of people I had ever met. The project lasted for many years.  Continue reading

When women are on the team

Korea NID

A Rotarian from District 3700 (Korea) administers oral polio vaccine to a child at a health camp in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, in November. Photo courtesy of Young Han Kim

Harriet “Pepi” Noble is a Rotarian and author of the blog, A Noble Purpose.

It’s International Women’s Day and I’m celebrating and spreading the news that thousands of women on two continents play a major role in eradicating polio.

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative tells the story of these female vaccinators and front line health care workers in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.

And they are not working in hospitals or clinics, but in the field, traveling door-to-door, down back alleys to talk Continue reading

Cheering India’s polio gains

Ramesh Ferris

Ramesh Ferris, a member of the Rotary Club of Whitehorse-Rendezvous, Yukon, Canada, visits with a polio survivor while in India for the recent summit.

By Ramesh Ferris, polio survivor and member of the Rotary Club of Whitehorse-Rendezvous, Yukon, Canada

Every day of my life, I’m reminded of the permanent effects of the horrific poliovirus.

Stricken with polio at the age of six months in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India, I underwent a series of surgeries and physical rehabilitiation after my adoption into a Canadian family, learning to walk on crutches by age four. Polio affected my lungs, and I contracted pneumonia nine times before my 11th birthday.

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Delivering wheelchairs, and hugs, in India

Delivering wheelchairs in India

A team of Rotarians from The Netherlands deliver a wheelchair to a polio victim while taking part in National Immunization Days in Uttar Pradesh, India.

By Albertine Perre-Bulder, past governor of District 1570 and National Immunization Day team leader

India is such a beautiful country. I am amazed by its many colorful cultures. And it has worked so hard to eliminate Polio!

Our Rotary team of 16 volunteers from District 1570 (Netherlands) participated in National Immunization Days (NID) in Bijnor and Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh in February. We vaccinated many children during Booth Day, but also went door to door so as not to miss a single child. 

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We can eradicate polio by working together

Hugh Evans is CEO of the Global Poverty Project

Hugh Evans, CEO of the Global Poverty Project, will be a keynote speaker at the 2012 RI Convention in Bangkok, Thailand, 6-9 May.

By Hugh Evans, founder and CEO of the Global Poverty Project.

One percent.

That’s all that’s left of the world’s polio. Thanks to a global partnership involving governments, the World Health Organization, Rotary International, UNICEF and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the total number of polio cases worldwide has gone from 350,000 a year prior to 1988, to just 650 in 2011.

That is a truly amazing feat.

India’s recent success has proven that eradication is possible. Not so long ago, people thought that India would be the last place on earth to stop transmission of the disease. Yet despite the difficulties, the four partner agencies of the GPEI, the Indian Government and the Indian people worked together to see it done.

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India taken off the polio-endemic list

The World Health Organization (WHO) has removed India from the list of active polio-endemic countries, following a year in which the country reported no new cases of the virus. Ghulam Nabi Azad, India’s minister of health and family welfare, announced the decision during the Polio Summit 2012 jointly sponsored by the government of India and Rotary International, 25-26 February in New Delhi. Azad received a letter from Dr. Margaret Chan, head of the WHO, informing him that India’s name had been removed from the list. The wild polio virus remains endemic in three countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria.

See a video message from RI President Kalyan Banerjee celebrating India’s first polio-free year.

Read “India is no longer polio endemic

Polio immunization rally in Moradabad

The team at a polio immunization rally in Moradabad, India.

By Richard Rivkin, assistant governor of District 6440 and past president of the Rotary Club of Northbrook, Illinois, USA.

After worming our way through the narrow streets of Moradabad, a small city in Uttar Pradesh, India, a local doctor brought us by foot to the End Polio Now rally which had already begun.

As part of a team of 20 Rotarians from districts 6440 (Illinois, USA), 6270 (Wisconsin, USA), 5650 (Nebraska, USA), and 1070 (England), we are in India this week to immunize hundreds of children in the Moradabad area and participate in a Polio Summit Conference 25-26 February involving Rotary leadership, government and health ministry leaders from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, and surrounding countries.

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