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

How simple schools are helping children in Ghana

Children in Abansere wanting a school to call their own.

By Walter Hughes, a member of the Rotary Club of Rocky Mount, Virginia, USA, and a 2013 Rotary Champion of Change

Have you ever wished as a Rotarian that you could do something to help educate a child? Have you ever dreamed that a child could start their education at a younger age? We see children in communities all over Ghana in West Africa and realize that they should be in school.   Continue reading

How Rotarians are providing disaster relief

Heart to Heart medical director Rick Randolph treats a child at a mobile clinic in Florida. Photo courtesy District 5710

By Pat O’Donnell, public image chair for Rotary District 5710 (Kansas, USA)

The 45 Rotary clubs in my district have come together to support Heart to Heart International’s disaster relief efforts in Texas and Florida. Immediately after Hurricane Harvey devastated the gulf coast of Texas with over 51 inches of rain, followed by the damage caused in Florida by Hurricane Irma, our Rotary members opened their hearts and checkbooks to help. Continue reading