How Rotary’s polio scholarship is helping me achieve my goals

Dr. Koko Khurram Rizwani takes a selfie with colleagues.

By Dr. Koko Khurram Rizwani, Rotary PolioPlus Memorial Scholarship recipient

About a year ago, I was facing many anxieties and worries about how I was going to complete my graduate studies and realize my short and long term goals of improving public health in Pakistan. Receiving Rotary’s PolioPlus Memorial Scholarship has been like a dream come true. Continue reading

What I think about when I cycle

Rotary riders at the start of El Tour de Tucson in 2014.

By John Hewko, Rotary International General Secretary 

On 18 November, over 18,000 wheels will be gliding through the Sonora Desert. Those wheels will be propelled by 9,000 cyclists participating in the annual Tour de Tucson. Many ride for fun; many ride for the challenge of completing the long course of 106 miles; and many ride to raise money for humanitarian causes. Close to a hundred of those riders are fortunate enough to ride for nothing less than one of the greatest public health achievements in our time.  Continue reading

That’s a nice flower, what’s it for?

A boy awaits the results of tests to determine if he has contracted polio.

By Mike Parry, regional Rotary Foundation coordinator for Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Isle of Man, northern and central England

As an RI representative on a World Health Organization post-polio outbreak surveillance audit in Ethiopia, I saw first-hand the front line difficulties experienced by doctors and local health workers. I also witnessed the very real fear of a child awaiting the result of tests to see if he had contracted polio. On my return to the United Kingdom, I was determined to be as involved as possible in supporting Rotary’s number one humanitarian project. Continue reading

Why we will eradicate polio in Nigeria

A boy in the displaced persons camp waves at the visiting team.

By Carol Pandak, Director of PolioPlus for Rotary International

As we drove away from the Muna camp for Internally Displaced Persons on the outskirts of Maiduguri, the capital city of restive Borno State in Nigeria, a young boy dressed in brown tunic and pants gave us a  friendly, somewhat surprised wave.

At 60,000 inhabitants, the camp had doubled in size since the same time last year as conflict continues to push people from their homes. My visit to the camp was the final stop on a trip to Nigeria with the Chair of Rotary’s International PolioPlus Committee, Mike McGovern, on the occasion of the country having not reported a case of polio for a year. But while we marked the date on the calendar, the visit was not celebratory.  Continue reading

My dad’s battle with polio

Michelle Provan and her dad, Robert, who died in 2006 from pulmonary complications stemming from postpolio syndrome.

By Michelle Provan

During the 1950s, shortly after World War II, polio had a rampant outbreak in Chicago. I remember my dad, Robert Provan, telling the story of how he went to play at Evergreen Park, taking a sip of cool water from a drinking fountain, and believing that is where he caught the deadly disease at age five.

He was diagnosed with the worst type of polio. It instantly affected his entire body, and he was paralyzed from the neck down. He also spent time in an iron lung. My grandparents tried a couple of specialists to no avail. In fact, they were told to institutionalize him, a practice that was common during this time. They were told, “He is a burden to the family, and he belongs in an institute. Just let him die.” Continue reading

Overcoming obstacles to polio eradication in Pakistan

A Rotary volunteer administers polio drops to a child missed by earlier rounds in Pakistan.

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”

Henry Ford

By Alina A. Visram, manager, Pakistan National PolioPlus Committee

When I first joined Pakistan’s PolioPlus Committee (PNPPC) as a manager close to eight years ago, polio eradication seemed within our reach. I used the opportunity to study poliomyelitis beyond just perceiving it as “a crippling disease.” I researched the causes and consequences; the types of polio virus; modes of prevention; and how elusive the virus can be given the right conditions. Continue reading

Why Rotary scholarships are sustainable investments

Sarah Ehlinger Affotey, a former Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar, at a project site in Ghana.

By Sarah Ehlinger Affotey

After receiving an Ambassadorial Scholarship from Rotary in 2011, I put a lot of pressure on myself to “do it right,” or in other words, give Rotary a solid return on its investment. With each passing month in Ghana, what I had first deemed as peripheral – the friendships, conversations, and breakdown of stereotypes – were actually advancing world understanding, goodwill, and peace. How ingenious that this scholarship allowed me to advance Rotary’s mission subconsciously?

Continue reading

The beginning of my Rotary story: polio drops in India

Administering polio drops during an immunization trip to India.

Editor’s note: This is the first of a series of posts from polio eradication volunteers, Rotary staff, and survivors in honor of World Polio Day 24 October.

By Nancy Barbee, past governor of District 7730 (North Carolina, USA)

Picture a small town country girl from North Carolina on her way to India for the first time with her 12-year-old son. A personal mission to visit friends in the remote state of Bihar was the beginning of my Rotary story that has lasted for more than a decade. Continue reading

Polio eradication: when the impossible becomes possible

Night at the Park attendees learn about Rotary’s efforts to eradicate polio.

By Jim Ferguson, governor-elect of District 7550 (West Virginia, USA)

Why did I become a Rotarian? Was it fellowship, networking, building a resume, or some other reason?  For me it was about the chance to add purpose to my life and make a difference. And eradicating polio is very important to me.

My amazing mother had polio and I witnessed firsthand how it affected her life. Despite her disability she raised 9 children during some very rough times. Continue reading

3 lessons I learned as a Rotary club president

By Quentin Wodon, past president of the Rotary Club of Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C., USA 

Every year, 35,000 new presidents pick up the reins to guide their Rotary clubs. Having recently completed a year as president myself, I thought it would be beneficial to share three lessons I learned from the experience. Continue reading