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

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

Why I have come to love India

Cynde Covington administers drops of the polio vaccine

Cynde Covington administers drops of the polio vaccine during a previous visit in India.

By Cynde Covington, Rotary Club of Southpoint, Jacksonville, Florida, USA, and Zone 34 team leader

This is our fourth National Immunization Day (NID) trip to India and our third leading the NID Team from Rotary International Zone 34. I have fallen in love with this magnificent, beautiful country and the people who live there. Continue reading

Sing, Dance, and Keep India Polio-Free!

Selfies at a Khera Khurd polio rally

So much warmth, hospitality, and joy at the polio rally in Khera Khurd, a village on the outskirts of Delhi. And so many fun selfies! #endpolio

ingridBy Ingrid Schwab, Rotary staff

Amit says it feels like our team has been in India for a week, but really it’s been about two days. It definitely feels like a lifetime. This is the first Rotary staff Sub-National Immunization Day (SNID) trip to India, and our schedule is full of activities to experience and understand the fight to end polio. On this day, our colleagues at Rotary’s National PolioPlus office, Amit, Lokesh, and Deepak, arranged for us to take part in a polio awareness rally in Khera Khurd, a village on the outskirts of Delhi. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

A Rotary Passage to India

By David Goodstone, Rotary senior writer

As a writer, I’m always looking for metaphors and similes, especially in unfamiliar places, searching for the right phrase to tell a story.

On my first Rotary trip to India with Rotary Polio Ambassador Minda Dentler, the story I was seeking to tell was the work of Rotary members and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. My task was easy. For in India’s sights, objects, and even signs, rich metaphors are abundant.

Take this sign on the back of a ubiquitous Tata truck: “Obey the Traffic Rules.”

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Tata truck in India

Continue reading

Life is hard enough without having to deal with polio

Ethiopian children watch the immunization volunteers.

Ethiopian children watch the immunization volunteers.

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 Continue reading

Visiting polio immunization booths on the border of Nepal

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By Sujan Pradhan

In June, members of my Rotary Club of Kakarvitta, Jhapa, Nepal, inspected 15 polio immunization booths around the municipality of Mechinagar, on the border of Nepal and India. The Nepal PolioPlus Committee had declared a National Immunization Day on 23 May, but due to the major earthquake in April, our inspection was postponed to early June. We visited booths from urban areas to far rural areas, and distributed banners, pamphlets, and water bottles to the volunteers at each booth. Continue reading

Funding the fight against polio

A child who has tested positive for polio in Pakistan.

A child who tested positive for polio in Pakistan.

By Jewat Sunder, Rotary Club of Khipro Sunders, Pakistan

I recently traveled to the Sanghar District of Pakistan to meet the parents of a child who had tested positive for polio. Rotary members were taking part in immunizing children against polio during a one-day drive.

Seeing the child reminded me all the more why we must eradicate this disease. The parents cooperated with me in distributing vaccination information, and I handed out End Polio Now caps, pencils, and balls. Continue reading

Rotarians are a powerful force for polio eradication

A child is immunized against polio.

A child is immunized against polio.

By Steve Crane, a member of the Rotary Club of Seattle, Washington, USA, and a polio survivor. Crane has been appointed district polio eradication advocacy chair by successive governors in District 5030.

Rotary members are being asked if recent headlines mean there is some doubt about ending polio for good. Our answer is that the end of polio in India is the headline to remember.

We are at the heart of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), a partnership of Rotary International, the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and many national governments. Rotary has contributed $1.3 billion to the GPEI through PolioPlus. And it is committed to adding up to $105 million per year over the next four years through the End Polio Now: Make History Today campaign.  Continue reading