Our greatest gift to future generations

Hussey and children in Nigeria

Ann Lee Hussey and children in Nigeria

By Ann Lee Hussey, a member of the Rotary Club of Portland Sunrise, Maine, USA

Polio can affect children anywhere. The poliovirus doesn’t discriminate based on geography, skin color, or religion. If we don’t eradicate polio now, the world could see cases rebound to 200,000 new cases every year, within 10 years.

I’ve participated in 27 immunization campaigns, leading 23, throughout Africa and Asia, not because I’m a polio survivor, but because I believe polio eradication will be one of our greatest gifts to future generations.

People sometimes talk about how much money we can save if we eradicate polio. It’s reported that we could save $40 billion to $50 billion over the next 20 years if we eradicate the disease soon, and the economic impact on families and communities that are affected by polio is staggering.

Uma’s story
During my first trip to Nigeria in 2008, I immunized children in very rural areas. We walked through millet fields, down dirt roads, and across fields with grazing cows to reach clusters of homes. During a visit to one village, I met Uma, who was 11 at the time. Uma had never been to school. As a polio victim, she only had the ability to walk on all fours and the closest school was miles away from her community.

Uma moved me. Her story motivated me to help this community. My fellow health workers told me that I had a unique opportunity to speak with the state governor and request that the village be granted a school. I developed a relationship with the state governor and we began talks about building a school.

“If we invest the additional $1.5 billion needed to eradicate polio, we’ll not only save dollars, we’ll save countless lives and prevent children from suffering from this completely preventable disease.”

After a few more visits, my friend and local Rotary leader Saliu Ahmed and I suggested the village members set up a temporary school to show the governor why they needed funding. When I returned 10 months later, the village had built a small school, made with mud walls and a thatched roof.  This effort proved to the state governor the need for the school. The governor told me, “on your next visit, you will have a new school and when you return, we’ll talk about something else.”

The new school was a larger, cement block building. We provided Uma a wheelchair so she could attend school more easily.

Catalyst for change
I’m impressed with how a simple trip meant for immunization was a catalyst for so many other developments. After I met Uma, we built a school, a public toilet, two wells with solar panel pumps, and a bridge providing year-round access to surrounding communities. Uma’s village became the gathering point for nearby settlements.

My story about Uma and her village is not the only one of its kind. When immunizing, Rotarians see other needs and reach out to help. I find that the infrastructure put in place to vaccinate children against polio provides the foundation to improve other conditions in communities and countries.

If we invest the additional $1.5 billion needed to eradicate polio, we’ll not only save dollars, we’ll save countless lives and prevent children from suffering from this completely preventable disease. Rotary members began this journey and we need to press on to the journey’s end.

Learn how you can help us end polio now

6 thoughts on “Our greatest gift to future generations

  1. Ann Lee is a personal friend who has done so much for the good of the world. She is at the forefront of Rotary’s top priority – a polio free world. The next few years are critical so that we can be there at the end of the polio eradication effort we started. This is our program joined by others – not the other way around. It is incumbent on every Rotarian to share the story and to contribute to the effort. We will become a part of history. Thanks to Ann Lee for all the work she does to make our world a better place!

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  2. Safe drinking water, sewage treatment, and food should always come first! Because without those essentials you have an immunocompromised child who is wide open to catch every disease they are exposed to!

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  3. ROTARY  s travail in globalmimmunizatiin and partnering with friends and technical specialists all has reached a triumphant point of no return.polio  s death knell must be  seen and global health will be witnessed presently,The likes of Ann Husey and many anonymous fellows folks and volunteers and givers deserve to be appreciated  eternally for a life of dedication to polio battle and the wisdom in children immunization without which disease eradication is possible, There lies the   beauty of Rotary s spearheading the millions of kids immunization in Philippine and elsewhere for decades till date her hng extra mile in partnering with other well meaning organizations like WHO,UNICEF ,CFCs USA and recently philanthropic practioners like the Bill & Melinda Gate s foundation have helped to reduce polio to the nearest desth knell for polio in particular and heading towards total elimination by 017 & gorgeous quest of certification planet earth by 2018.For tis laudable bola to be realized as amplified by Ann lee above much more big global giving is required to invest in global health and a disease free -polio free world soonest possible,It’s a candid epidemiological fact no part of the world is free of reinfect ion if there s a single case leftun treated and technically checked no more polio here or there !
    It’s a joint responsibility that calls for oral and technical support and kudos for all involved since the 25 years well deserved optimism that will yield triumph for the world leaders and next generation who will collect the baton for effective living
    congrats on your polio survival story,Your travail in immunization globally is & will be technically remembered

    Gbemisoye Tijani,PHF,pp,pr chair ,charter treasurer
    RI volunteer monitor in 2012 spd in Kano Minjibir Lga from Rc Oluyole estate Ibadan d9125
    1242am 27/7/16

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  4. Pingback: Our greatest gift to future generations | The Rotary Club of Carteret

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