Harness idealism to change world
Maybe it’s the water. Maybe it’s the sanitation. Maybe it’s the thousands of people living a crowded, urban life. Maybe it’s the indifferent politicians. Maybe it’s sheer fatigue of doing this for two decades and counting.
(Please read the article and note the author at the end of the article)
But those are just excuses. And, truthfully, they don’t match the data. Polio has been eradicated from 122 countries around the world and the number of cases has been reduced by 99 percent. Yet, four more countries are left, four more endemic nations: Nigeria, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan — each with its own set of challenges.
Annually, Rotarians visit these nations, primarily India and Nigeria in past years due to safety concerns elsewhere, to take part in National Immunization Day — a concerted effort by the World Health Organization, UNICEF and Rotary, with the support of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. They circle the neighborhoods of cities in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar (states in northern India), talk with the local UNICEF workers (employed for a daily wage of 50 rupees) to acquire an update on the status of polio in those towns, vaccinate dozens of children at “polio booths” that range from the organized, well-staffed with polio paraphernalia to a signless, rickety wooden table holding just a single cold case of the vaccine.
The Rotarians don the role of ambassadors, representing their hometowns, states, and even the U.S., in many cases. With the help of translators, they answer questions from the local press who aren’t always satisfied with their responses, arguing that the program is ineffective, children are still coming down with polio and the money’s being wasted. These are seasoned journalists, well aware of India’s health problems, and have been on the polio beat for years.
From District 5330 Polio Eradication Chair - Shab El Awar
Dear Fellow District 5330 Rotarian,
Congratulations on the beginning of a new and hopefully successful year of Rotary Service as a supporter of our District Polio Eradication effort. I sincerely hope it is a wonderfully productive and satisfying experience for you.
Have you ever heard Rotarians speak about their personal experience participating in a polio eradication exercise? These trips have a profound effect upon the individual. If you ever have a chance to go on one, you should; it will change you forever.
"Changing a life will do even more"
The purpose of this e-mail is to offer you, and the members of your Club, such an opportunity. From November 4–11, 2009, Rotarians will travel to Benin, West Africa to participate in a National Polio Immunization Day program and attend the 5th Annual West African Project Fair.
In 1988, polio infected nearly 1,000 children every day. In 2008, fewer than 2,000 cases were reported for the entire year. Use this interactive timeline by clicking the photo above to trace the history of this paralyzing disease from 1580 B.C. to the present.
If you missed the early to mid twentieth century here is another film that you should watch,
Above photo from the www.pbs.org polio photo collection.
A HBO Documentary Film.
"Nearly 50 years after a vaccine for polio was developed in the United States, the polio virus still finds refuge in some of the world's most vulnerable places. This documentary short, nominated for a 2008 Academy Award®, examines how a group of dedicated workers are going door-to-door and slum-to-slum to reach unprotected children in poor enclaves in India."
Click the photo above for full story.
Click here to watch the film. The film is just over 38 minutes. Please take the time to watch.