No child should have to suffer from polio

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By Isabeli Fontana

As a Rotary polio ambassador, I’m currently in India, participating in our vaccination program. I think everyone should have the best start in life, so as a mother, I made sure my two sons received the vaccine against polio.

The story of Rotary’s fight against polio is inspiring, and it always gives me hope to see the impact of Rotary’s work when I travel. For me, beauty is anything that makes you happy. The work of Rotary and health workers is certainly beautiful. Continue reading

Rotary torch keeps the flame burning for polio eradication in Afghanistan

Members of the Rotary Club of Kabul hold the Rotary torch during its stop at their club.

Mohammed Ishak, Rotary Club of Jalalabad, holds the torch during a joint event with the Rotary Club of Kabul City. Luke Beer, author of this post, is second from right in back.

By Luke Beer, president of the Rotary Club of Kabul City, Afghanistan

As some of you know, a Rotary “flame” was launched in December in Chennai, India, to commemorate India becoming polio-free and to promote the need to go the last mile in the battle to eradicate this horrible crippling disease. The torch has made its way through several countries already, and will pass through all three polio endemic countries  – Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria – before arriving at the 2015 Rotary Convention in São Paulo 6-9 June.

I want to share with you just how inspiring it was to be part of the flame’s journey. As an Afghan club, we are so grateful for the energy it has given us as a club to refocus our efforts on polio awareness, working alongside the Rotary Club of Jalalabad. Continue reading

Fifth birthday and beyond

John Hewko

John Hewko

By John Hewko, Rotary International General Secretary

Beginning 23 June, Rotary will join 37 NGOs, non-profits, philanthropies and businesses in supporting the 5th Birthday and Beyond celebration that recognizes the leading role the U.S. government plays in improving children’s health worldwide.

And believe me, there is much to celebrate, especially the incredible improvement in childhood mortality rates over the past quarter century. Experts tell us that in 2014, six million fewer children will die before their fifth birthday than was the case 25 years ago. Continue reading

Journey across Australia on a lawnmower

Craig Alford

Craig Alford planned to ride a push bicycle across Australia to raise money for charity, but he hopped on his souped up Hustler Super lawnmower instead.

“This is so much more rewarding,” he said upon his arrival at Sydney Olympic Park on Saturday, the last leg of his 2014 trip, bringing his total kilometers traveled to about 2,500. “And a bit easier on the body.”

Alford, a member of the Rotary Club of Armadale and assistant governor of District 9465 in Western Australia, sells lawnmowers and other equipment at his business. He made his grand entrance by cruising past thousands of Rotarians on the main drag at Sydney Olympic Park. Then he threw down a couple of spins on the mower to get the crowd pumped up   — and to open up some wallets. He’s riding for mental health research, prostate cancer research, and polio eradication. Alford hopes to raise $1 million Australian dollars over 7 years, traveling some 15,000 kilometers in the process. He’s raised just under $200,000 Australian dollars so far.

“You come around the corner and see the expression on people’s faces of amazement,” he says.

His journey this year started in Adelaide then went up to Melbourne, on to Tasmania, back to Melbourne to Canberra, and over to Sydney. He’s averaging 200 kilometers a day. Along the way, he’s collecting all sorts of interesting stories.

“One lady had six dollars to her name,” he says, “and gave it to us as a donation because her daughter suffers from depression.”

Others just appreciate the original idea, though they should probably appreciate the execution too. Riding a lawnmower across Australia is a complicated, bureaucratic activity. For starters, he’s not allowed to cut any lawns. Australia won’t allow you to drive a vehicle with blades on roads. Secondly, he needs permits to ride in some Australian states.

“If you’re thinking of riding a lawn mower around anywhere, think hard before you do it because it’s a lot of work,” he adds. “But it’s a great adventure.”

Alford is accompanied on his rides by a support staff of 8-11 people, all Rotarians. So if you see him, give him a wave and a donation. If you’ve seen him in the past, share your stories in the comments field.

Funding a million polio vaccines through social media

World's Greatest Meal event.

World’s Greatest Meal event.

By Susanne Rea, past president of the Rotary Club of Cairns Sunrise, Queensland, Australia 

I was day dreaming on the couch one day after taking a new position as polio chair for my Rotary District, 9550 (Australia), when an idea hit me.

What if we held a social media driven event similar to the Rotary Global Swimarathon, only made it about meals and eating! The World’s Greatest Meal. I had worked with Paul Wilson on his excellent Facebook promotion of the swimming event, and was very impressed with what he and supporting Rotary members were able to accomplish for polio eradication. Continue reading