New Englanders, Nigeria clubs aid Boko Haram refugees

By Marty Peak Helman, District 7780 Foundation Chair

Children in a refugee camp in eastern Nigeria.

Children in a refugee camp in eastern Nigeria.

The American University of Nigeria (AUN) was co-founded by Rotarian Felix Obadan in 2000, and 12 years later, when Felix was governor of Rotary’s District 9125, which covers a large portion of Nigeria, he chartered the Rotary Club of Yola-AUN on campus. Their strong influence on campus makes it not surprising that many University professors and senior staff are Rotary members, and that the University prides itself on its work toward peace, entrepreneurship, and economic development as well as its strong academics.

The University’s mission is to graduate students prepared to take on the challenges in Nigeria and throughout West Africa – challenges of climate change, development, and peace building. And peace is not an abstract concept at the university. After all, it is located in Yola, the capital of Adamawa State, in the region where Boko Haram is most powerful. In fact, those few dozen Chibok schoolgirls who escaped from being kidnapped by Boko Haram are now safely living at the University, where they are receiving social services and education. Continue reading

Nigeria’s president shows strong support for polio eradication

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, center, immunizes a child against polio in his hometown of Daura.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, center, immunizes a child against polio in his hometown of Daura.

By Rotary Voices staff

In September, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari immunized children against polio in his hometown, Daura in Katsina State. In his first months as Nigeria’s leader, Buhari has shown strong support for polio eradication efforts. On 24 July, the country celebrated one year since its last case of polio caused by the wild poliovirus. To mark the milestone, President Buhari publicly immunized his granddaughter against the disease.

Later this month, the World Health Organization could remove Nigeria from the list of polio-endemic countries, leaving only Pakistan and Afghanistan on the list.

Putting books in the hands of children

Children read books they received through Gyan Jyot, a program of the Rotary Club of Baroda Sayajinagari.

Children read books they received through Gyan Jyot, a program of the Rotary Club of Baroda Sayajinagari.

By Rotary Voices staff

Rotary members in Gujarat, India, have launched a program to put books into the hands of children from low income families who cannot afford them, or whose schools lack large library collections.

Gyan Jyot is a program of the Rotary Club of Baroda Sayajinagari. For as little as $3,000, the club purchases and circulates a variety of reading material to students, who get to pick a book of their choice a week to read at no cost. Continue reading

A day at the orphanage

Members of the Rotary Club of Onigbongbo at the Red Cross Orphanage

Members of the Rotary Club of Onigbongbo at the Red Cross Orphanage. Photo courtesy of Yomi Lawson

Members of the Rotary Club of Onigbongbo, Lagos State, Nigeria, decided to celebrate 110 years of Rotary by donating supplies to a Red Cross orphanage that provides a home for 200 abandoned or vulnerable children. The club delivered 10 packs of diapers, 150 liters of diesel fuel, two cartons of infant formula, ten crates of eggs, two cartons of biscuits, five cartons of noodles, three cartons of fruit drink, and detergent. Members stayed to play with the children after dropping off the goods.

Touching the hearts of thousands through Rotary service

Viral Purohit

Viral Purohit

By Suman Ramesh, a member of the Rotary Club of Lago-Palm Grove Estate, Lagos, Nigeria

For several years, our club has had the privilege of being part of an eye camp that provides free surgeries to patients with limited access to care in Nigeria. There is nothing quite like witnessing the joy on the face of a patient who arrives with limited vision, and leaves with the ability to see.

We team up with the medical staff from the Eye Institute in Navsari, India, to sponsor the camp, treating nearly a thousand patients in the Nigerian states of Lagos and Ogun spread over 10 days. Patients are screened and pre-surgery tests conducted for four to five weeks prior to the camp, drawing crowds of needy people, many of them suffering cataracts and similar eye conditions. It is very common for our club to receive calls from cataract patients inquiring about the dates of our camp. Continue reading

Turning bicycle parts into wheelchairs for polio survivors

Ayuba Burki Gufwan, a polio survivor and member of Rotary, founded Beautiful Gate, an organization that makes wheelchairs for Nigerian polio survivors. Here Gufwan speaks about his mission and about advocating for polio immunization.

Read Gufwan’s blog post about Beautiful Gate.

One moment, two drops of vaccine, change a life

Ken Hughes, a member of the Rotary Club of Burlington, Kansas, USA, during the immunization trip. Photo courtesy 2012 NID Team

Ken Hughes, a member of the Rotary Club of Burlington, Kansas, USA, during the immunization trip. Photo courtesy 2012 NID Team

By Al Bonney, 2014-15 Governor of District 6290 (part of Ontario, Canada; part of Michigan, USA), and a member of the Rotary Club of Traverse City, Michigan

The sun was just peaking pink and yellow over the roof tops of the soon-to-be-busy street when our team of 15 Rotary members sleepily descended from the bus on the first day of the three-day National Immunization Day trip. Continue reading

How do you use your skills to benefit others?

Bisan Michael (right) during the ceremony in his honor.

Bisan Michael (right) during the ceremony in his honor.

By Edoja Sowho, Rotary Club of Effurun GRA, Delta State, Nigeria

The airport road junction in Effurun-Warri, Delta State, Nigeria, is a very busy and strategic location in the oil-rich city of Warri. The government of Delta State constructed a roundabout to ease traffic congestion, but it’s had little effect.

At the center of this hotspot, you’ll find Bisan Michael, a rather remarkable young man who volunteers his time and talent to keep traffic moving, rain or shine. He has been doing this work, with no reward for himself, for years. Continue reading

Traveling to Nigeria to fight polio

Ann Lee Hussey immunizing a child against polio in Chad.

Ann Lee Hussey immunizing a child against polio in Chad.

By Ann Lee Hussey, polio survivor and member of the Rotary Club of Portland Sunrise, Maine, USA.

As a 17-month-old toddler, I contracted polio. Burning up with fever, I was paralyzed from the waist down. It was July 1955, only three months after Jonas Salk’s vaccine was released to the public. I was lucky to regain the use of most but not all of my leg muscles. Today, after multiple surgeries, braces, and physical therapy, I am able to walk with limitations. Continue reading

Polio did not put a brake on my life

131017_gufwan2By Ayuba Burki Gufwan, a polio survivor and founder/director of Beautiful Gate Handicapped People Center in Plateau State, Nigeria. Launched in 1999, Beautiful Gate has built and distributed more than 6,000 tricycle-type wheelchairs to polio survivors in Nigeria and neighboring states.

I was born in a tiny village in Plateau State, Nigeria. My mother had lost two babies before I was born, so when I came along everyone was very excited. I still remember faintly playing around with other kids. At the age of five, I came down with polio.

Continue reading