Traveling to Nigeria to fight polio

Ann Lee Hussey immunizing a child against polio in Chad.

Ann Lee Hussey immunizing a child against polio in Chad.

By Ann Lee Hussey, polio survivor and member of the Rotary Club of Portland Sunrise, Maine, USA.

As a 17-month-old toddler, I contracted polio. Burning up with fever, I was paralyzed from the waist down. It was July 1955, only three months after Jonas Salk’s vaccine was released to the public. I was lucky to regain the use of most but not all of my leg muscles. Today, after multiple surgeries, braces, and physical therapy, I am able to walk with limitations. Continue reading

How polio changed my life

Pulmão de Aço (Iron Lung), published this year in Brazil, tells the story of Eliana Zagui, a polio survivor who has lived for decades in a hospital in Brazil.

Pulmão de Aço (Iron Lung), published this year in Brazil, tells the story of Eliana Zagui, a polio survivor who has lived for decades in a hospital in Brazil.

By Eliana Zagui, author of Pulmão de Aço (Iron Lung)

Before it was eradicated through the effort of massive immunization campaigns in 1989, poliomyelitis was prevalent in Brazil. The lack of vaccine and poor sanitation in small towns resulted in thousands of victims a year. Avoiding polio was often a matter of luck.

In January 1976, at the age of two, my luck ran out. I woke up with a fever and weak lower limbs. Although my parents were used to my recurrent episodes of sore throat, they brought me to the nearest city of Jaboticabal for medical treatment. The next day, lacking a diagnosis, I was sent to Ribeirão Preto, a larger city with better medical facilities. By the time the doctors Continue reading

We’ve joined the World’s Biggest Commercial, won’t you?

Lisa Hebson

Lisa Hebson

By Lisa Hebson, a participant in the World’s Biggest Commercial and resident of Evanston, Illinois, USA. Hebson’s brother-in-law is a creative director at SCC, the ad agency that helped develop the commercial for Rotary.

My brother-in-law is very enthusiastic about Rotary’s “This Close” campaign. It is a really exciting collaboration of people.

A few weeks ago, I promised him I would take 100 photos of people for the World’s Biggest Commercial. It would be my gift to him, and a challenging goal for me to strive for in the new year. Continue reading

Rotary and UNESCO-IHE partner to raise water standards

RI President Sakuji Tanaka (second from right) visits a lab at UNESCO-IHE in Delft, The Netherlands, in November. From left are Kaycee Okoli, a Rotary Scholar from Nigeria; Titia Jonkman, spouse of governor Nico Jonkman of District 1600; and Henk Jaap Kloosterman, the district’s UNESCO-IHE coordinator.

RI President Sakuji Tanaka (second from right) visits a lab at UNESCO-IHE in Delft, The Netherlands, in November. From left are Kaycee Okoli, a Rotary Scholar from Nigeria; Titia Jonkman, spouse of governor Nico Jonkman of District 1600; and Henk Jaap Kloosterman, the district’s UNESCO-IHE coordinator.

By Henk Jaap Kloosterman, a member of the Rotary Club of Voorburg-Vliet, The Netherlands, and district UNESCO-IHE coordinator

My Rotary life suddenly changed in late 2011, when Rotary Foundation Trustee Stephen R. Brown dropped me an email, saying he was coming to The Netherlands to talk to UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education.

I knew Stephen from his former involvement in efforts on getting Rotary started in Afghanistan and the Sultanate of Oman (where I lived at the time), and now I suddenly found out that Steve was Continue reading

Rising to the challenges of water management at UNESCO-IHE

Rotary Scholar Kenechukwu "Kaycee" Okoli in Delft, Netherlands.

Rotary Scholar Kenechukwu “Kaycee” Okoli in Delft, Netherlands.

By Kenechukwu “Kaycee” Okoli, Rotary Scholar from Nigeria

Leaving Nigeria for Delft, Netherlands, to take part in a Rotary scholarship program at UNESCO-IHE has been an overwhelmingly positive experience. It has been a goal of mine to pursue advanced studies in hydraulic engineering. Being a Rotary scholar, not only has funding been provided for my graduate studies, but I am part of a strategy conceived by Rotary to address the complex issues of water and sanitation. It inspires me to rise to the challenge of seeking solutions to the world’s water and sanitation crisis as a water professional. 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

Australian Rotaractors raise awareness for polio eradication

Australian Rotaractors and Rotarians in front of Parliament House in Canberra 21 October to raise awareness for the End Polio Now campaign. Photo courtesy of Rotaract Club of Canberra

By Kate Campbell, president of the Rotaract Club of Canberra, Australia

Standing alongside my fellow Australian Rotaractors and Rotarians in front of Parliament House in Canberra 21 October to raise awareness for the End Polio Now campaign was a truly exhilarating moment.

The event aimed to show support for the amazing work done by RI and their partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and encourage the Australian government to continue supporting the fight against this deadly 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