Two sides to the polio eradication effort

Tim Ryan

Tim Ryan

By Tim Ryan, a member of the Rotary Club of Toledo, Ohio, USA

I was in Abuja, Nigeria, last month as part of a team taking part in National Immunization Days (NID). I danced with nurses at lunchtime. I had lots of fun. I did not want to leave.

The entire team met committed doctors, saw lots of polio victims (mostly children), and took many photos. Experience has shown that by aiding polio victims from the local infected communities, Rotarians help the families become the best advocates for polio immunization.  Continue reading

Promoting polio eradication in Argentina

Rotarians in Argentina display an End Polio Now banner at River Plate soccer stadium. Photo courtesy of District 4855

Rotarians in Argentina display an End Polio Now banner at River Plate soccer stadium. From left José Luis De Laurente, Roberto Fontanella, Federico Frangiosa, Marcelo Frangiosa and Javier Costalonga. Photo courtesy of District 4855

By Marcelo Enrique Frangiosa, governor of District 4855 (Argentina)

On Sunday, 2 December, our district had a very busy and very happy day. It started with a “Polio Plus Fellowship Asado,” a barbecue where more than 150 Rotarians and friends celebrated their friendship, while raising funds for polio.

After taking a “This Close” photo, part of the district polio plus committee and I rushed to the River Plate Stadium to focus even more attention on the polio eradication efforts. Our team circled the soccer stadium proudly displaying the End Polio Now banner. Continue reading

Polio surgery project extends service beyond borders

Nigerian Health Minister C.O. Onyebuchi Chukwu takes part in a polio-corrective surgery during the medical mission.

Nigerian Health Minister C.O. Onyebuchi Chukwu takes part in a polio-corrective surgery during the medical mission.

By Rajiv Pradhan, past governor of District 3132 and primary project contact for the medical mission to Nigeria

The medical mission to Nigeria was a life-changing experience for the Indian doctors who took part and for the children who underwent polio-corrective surgeries.

The orthopedic surgeons, all with experience in these types of surgeries, came from all corners of India. Many more surgeons and anesthesiologists wanted to join than we had room for on the team. Continue reading

Immunization team overcomes a mother’s reluctance to deliver life-saving polio vaccine

Julia Yank

Julia Yank

By Julia Yank, a member of the Rotary club of St. Clair County Sunset, O’Fallon, Illinois, writing from Nigeria as part of a team taking part in National Immunization Days

When my mother asked if I would go to Nigeria for a National Immunization Day to assist in the eradication efforts against polio, I had no way of imagining what  lay ahead.

Being the daughter of past District Governors Greg and Catherine Taylor Yank, in District 6510, I have Rotary in my blood. Continue reading

Meeting a polio survivor in Nigeria

Al Bonney

Al Bonney

By Al Bonney, a member of the Rotary Club of Traverse City, Michigan, USA, writing from Nigeria as part of a team taking part in National Immunization Days

Before this trip, I had never looked a polio survivor outside the United States in the eye, engaged him in conversation, and seen his pain, sadness, and even resignation.

As a Rotarian, I have been aware of Rotary’s efforts to eradicate polio once and for all. But this was just two humans, mano a mano, seeking the same life of dignity and respect as the other, and it was my responsibility to communicate that respect and dignity. Continue reading

Ancient Lebanon sea castle illuminated with End Polio Now message

The sea castle in Saida, Lebanon, illuminated with an End Polio Now message.

By Bana Kalash Kobrosly, president of the Rotary Club of Saida, Lebanon

On 20 November, the Sea Castle in Saida, Lebanon, an important archeological site, was dramatically illuminated with the End Polio Now message.

The polio awareness program has been one of the most important humanitarian initiatives for Rotary clubs around the world for more than a quarter century now. For the second year in a row, Rotarians in Lebanon have played a part in helping build awareness around the need to eradicate this crippling disease. Continue reading

Polio survivors share a wealth of insight

John H.G. Soe at the 2012 RI Convention in Bangkok, Thailand.

By John H.G. Soe, a polio survivor and member of Rotary Club of Jakarta Sentral, Indonesia

At the age of four months, I was stricken with polio. My parents, due to their superstitions and lack of understanding, abandoned me to the nuns of a Catholic orphanage in Medan, Indonesia. It was a huge orphanage of 200 children, and I remember listening to the bells and sounds of prayers.

On school holidays, relatives would come and pick up many of the children, but not me. I was always left alone. I had never been cuddled or carried on someone’s lap. I had never known my parents, but only the gentle kindness of the nuns. I was starving for the warmth of family love. Continue reading

The struggles of a Puerto Rican polio survivor

Laura Blizzard

By Laura Blizzard, assistant governor of District 7000 and a member of the Rotary Club of Santurce, Puerto Rico

I met Maria while assisting with the End Polio Now lighting of the capitol in San Juan on 23 February, 2011. My telephone number was published in a local newspaper article about Rotary’s polio eradication efforts, and she called to offer her support and help. She said she understood better than many the importance of these efforts. I asked her how. This is her story:

My name is Maria L. Diaz Vargas. I am a polio survivor. I contracted the virus in 1964 when I was three years old. Continue reading

Polio survivor’s book reveals the trials of a polio mom

Kurt Sipolski

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

As World Polio Day approaches 24 October, I would bet most Americans thinking about polio have a hazy recollection of a long-dead U.S. president in a wheelchair, or else they have images of a more recent portrayal of a polio survivor such as the one in the new movie, The Sessions.

But for survivors like me, and for all the Rotarians and their polio eradication partners battling to finally eradicate the disease from the world, the day is a time for memory and unity. Continue reading

A polio survivor’s “aha” moment

John Nanni at the UN General Assembly special session to “Unite Against Polio” 27 September.

By John Nanni, a member of the Rotary Club of Hamilton Township, New Jersey, USA

As a polio survivor who was paralyzed from my neck down for six months, and as a Rotarian, I had the honor of being a part of the Rotary PolioPlus delegation to the UN General Assembly special session to “Unite Against Polio” on 27 September.

My day started early – I was so excited and nervous I couldn’t sleep. I was worried about being a good representative of our club and of the more than 20 million polio survivors. Continue reading