By Jerry Casey, husband of Rotarian Patrice Putnam of Maine, USA, and part of a team taking part in National Immunization Days in Nigeria in December
I came to join this team through my wife’s participation in Rotary and our attendance at one of Ann Lee Hussey’s presentations about polio eradication. Until now, I have been mostly an armchair traveler, with a world-view shaped and limited by my own choices of books and media.
This trip was a constant source of new people, new sights, and close exposure to conditions that can only be fully appreciated in person.
Of the many lasting impressions spinning in my jet-lagged brain, one of the most striking relates to Rotary itself. The framework Rotary International provides for close relationships across international borders was clear from the moment we were welcomed in Abuja to the time we departed. Working with Nigerian Rotarians to immunize children in the most abject corners of Kaduna was as collaborative and friendly as helping out at events that our local Rotary sponsors in Winthrop, Maine.
We saw the fruits of several long-standing joint efforts among clubs a half a world apart. We met with a Rotarian team of surgeons from India as they finished a two-week stay in which they completed over 700 corrective procedures on 400 young polio victims. The Wheels of Hope project, a blood bank facility in Jos, school construction, well-drilling and sanitation projects in remote villages, and the polio eradication effort itself made it clear to me that “Service above Self” is more than just a slogan.
None of this may surprise Rotarians, but speaking as a non-member, I am grateful for this opportunity to see what dedicated people working on shared goals can get done.
From Patrice: Like my husband, Jerry, I am struck by how much can be accomplished when people work together for the common good. Polio is a disease that, like small pox, can be eradicated from the face of the earth. Those of us who are lucky enough to live in countries without new polio cases need to support the efforts of those countries still facing this crippling disease. We can “End Polio Now” and it was a pleasure and a privilege to work with so many wonderful Rotarians committed to making this happen worldwide.