By Corinne Cavanaugh
As I walked up to a pile of dirt bricks beside a cottage in a small village in Ethiopia, I noticed two things immediately: the telltale odor of farming and the mouth sores of four small children. I will never forget the moment I saw those children, the first of many who received two life-saving drops of polio vaccine.
Polio is a virus that attacks the nervous system and can cause irreversible paralysis, usually of the legs. In a developing country, polio paralysis could mean crawling around in the dirt for the rest of your life. In the developed world, it could mean the rest of your life in a wheelchair. Rotarians are fighting to end polio forever to protect children everywhere from its debilitating effects. Life is hard enough.
Every year for the past 20 years, Rotarians in the greater Seattle area (District 5030) have embarked on a journey to participate in a National Immunization Day, led by Ezra Teshome, a past governor of our district, and Dave Weaver in Ethiopia. This year is no different. In early October, 40 Rotarians traveled to Addis Ababa to visit Rotary service projects, hospitals and schools, and to vaccinate children. Local Rotarians arrange for the group to travel to outlying areas to immunize children, assist health workers, and make a difference in hundreds of lives.
- Watch our World Polio Day event, streamed live from New York City, on 23 October
- Learn more ways you can help us end polio
- Read blog posts from polio survivors
About the author: Corinne Cavanaugh is a member of the Rotary Club of Seattle, Washington, USA, and social media committee chair for District 5030.
Ezra’s pioneering work in Ethiopia is well known in Seattle, enhancing public awareness that the challenge of polio eradication will engage Rotarians and our partners until it is gone for good.
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