Related Pages
Photo Albums
End Polio Now
The History below of how Rotary got involved in eradicating polio taken copied from Rotary International's Website.
Poliomyelitis (polio) is a paralyzing and potentially fatal disease that still threatens children in some parts of the world. The poliovirus invades the nervous system and can cause total paralysis in a matter of hours. It can strike at any age but mainly affects children under five. Polio is incurable, but completely vaccine-preventable.
"In 1985, Rotary launched its PolioPlus program, the first initiative to tackle global polio eradication through the mass vaccination of children. Rotary has contributed more than $1.6 billion and countless volunteer hours to immunize more than 2.5 billion children in 122 countries. In addition, Rotary’s advocacy efforts have played a role in decisions by donor governments to contribute more than $7.2 billion to the effort.
Global Polio Eradication Initiative
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative, formed in 1988, is a public-private partnership that includes Rotary, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and governments of the world. Rotary’s focus is advocacy, fundraising, volunteer recruitment and awareness building.
Polio Today
Today, there are only three countries that have never stopped transmission of the wild poliovirus: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. Less than 75 polio cases were confirmed worldwide in 2015, which is a reduction of more than 99.9 percent since the 1980s, when the world saw about 1,000 cases per day.
The polio cases represented by the remaining one percent are the most difficult to prevent, due to factors including geographical isolation, poor public infrastructure, armed conflict and cultural barriers. Until polio is eradicated, all countries remain at risk of outbreaks.
Ensuring Success
Every Dollar Rotary commits to polio eradication will be matched two-to-one by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation up to $35 million a year through 2018. These funds help to provide much-needed operational support, medical personnel, laboratory equipment, and educational materials for health workers and parents. Governments, corporations and private individuals all play a crucial role in funding.
Rotary in Action
More than one million Rotary members have donated their time and personal resources to end polio. Every year, hundreds of Rotary members work side-by-side with health workers to vaccinate children in polio-affected countries. Rotary Members work with UNICEF and other partners to prepare and distribute mass communication tools to reach people in areas isolated by conflict, geography, or poverty. Rotary members also recruit fellow volunteers, assist with transporting the vaccine, and provide other logistical support.
‘This Close’ Campaign
Rotary has a growing roster of public figures and celebrities participating in its “This Close” public awareness campaign, including Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; actresses Kristen Bell and Archie Panjabi; WWE superstar John Cena; supermodel Isabeli Fontana; Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu; action movie star Jackie Chan; boxing great Manny Pacquiao; pop star Psy; golf legend Jack Nicklaus; conservationist Jane Goodall; premier violinist Itzhak Perlman; Grammy Award winners A.R. Rahman; Angelique Kidjo and Ziggy Marley; and peace advocate Queen Noor of Jordan. These ambassadors help educate the public about polio through public service announcements, social media and public appearances."  (quoted from RI website on April 23, 2007)
Stories will be posted here from Rotarians in District 7780 on their experiences of working towards ending polio around the world. 
James Petersen, President of the Rotary Club of Portsmouth, NH submitted the first article which is shown below.  Hopefully many more will be forthcoming now that the "ice" has been broken.
My Trip to India
By James Petersen, President Rotary Club of Portsmouth
PRID Julia Phelps and PDG Nancy Barbee
I went on a fabulous Rotary trip to India in January 2017.  Julia Phelps, Past RI Director is how I found out about it by a posting on her Facebook. Nancy Barbee, Past District Governor, was the group leader with many trips to India under her belt. Our group included sixteen Rotarians mostly from south of the Mason-Dixon Line. They were nice folks and now new friends, and for some reason I did not come back with a habit of saying “y’all” or 'bless your heart".
Old Delhi
Nancy showed us around Old Delhi which frankly isn’t that much different than New Delhi in terms of the general chaos. One issue they have in India is locals tapping power from the electrical grid like syrup from a maple tree. Hundreds of adhoc wires form an overhead cobweb in just about all of the places we visited but it was in Old Delhi that we were introduced to the practice. When I returned home I watched a documentary film on India’s problem with stealing electricity. It is embedded in the culture and likely will take a long while to untangle.
Sikh Temple
We visited a Sikh Temple of extraordinary architectural beauty. It is also a place where up to 30,000 meals are served a day! It is a mega soup kitchen. I learned that feeding people is a tradition in the Sikh religion. Apparently for Sikh Leaders the path to religious conversion is through the stomach. I asked our local guide Manesh how long they had been carrying on this tradition of feeding people. He paused, then said “forever”. India is an old culture.
    Cataract Surgery     
   Rotary is very prevalent in India and Rotarians there take on large
   challenges. We visited two locations where Rotarians facilitate cataract surgery
   for the very poor. Most patients walk for two or three days to get to the clinic        for the procedure. One of the women we met was only 40 years old. The            cataract surgery restored her vision allowing her a much better chance to
   support her family that lives in very poor circumstances. Most of the patients
   are between 50 and 70 years old. In the Kolkata clinic we visited 2,500
   surgeries will be completed under the current Rotary Grant. 

Boy’s School
Kankugachi Vireckananda is an all boy’s school at 286 A CIT Road in Kolkata. There are 150 students from grade 5 through 10, all first generation learners.  I had the pleasure of speaking at length with the Principal and English teacher Soma Roy has been at the school for 18 years. Her goal is to reach families that have never had access to education - first generation learners she calls them. I am proud that my club is generously supporting a library of English story books for the school. The native language is Bengali but the common language throughout India is English. Principal Roy told me that for these children learning English is the key for them to have access to opportunities and a better life. Many local Rotarians I spoke with during our visit said access to education is what is most needed for India to develop.
Mother Teresa
We were allowed a glimpse but no photos of the 10 by 10 austere room with a cot, desk and chair where Mother Teresa lived and worked for decades beginning in 1953. Establishing her organization called Missionaries of Charity, Mother Teresa and her sisters brought the dying in off the street. Their promise to the dying people they helped was that although they had lived without dignity, at least she and her sisters would see to it that they died with dignity. It was a powerful experience for me to be in the place where she labored so long with such reverence for basic human dignity. 
India Dog
Indians have a special relationship with animals which they happily share the public space with. Sacred cows, owned by no one, roam the roadways negotiating cars, buses, SUVs, trucks, pedestrians, bicycles and scooters. They are joined by other “public” animals including “India” dogs, goats and pigs that seem to understand the chaotic rules of the road, rules that for the most part remained inaccessible to me. One of our hosts told me that Indians live side by side with the animals. Indians love their pet dogs and farmers tend to their own livestock but the animals that are in the public domain have a special unmaligned status.

Friendly People
There is an overall feeling of friendliness you get from Indians. They are welcoming and trusting. Basically the opposite reputation of folks where I come from.  We New Englanders are world famous as standoffish and suspicious of strangers. The children and adults alike were welcoming, straight-forward, respectful and unjaded. And it wasn’t just because we were company. They appear to treat each other in the same manner. For example, we were often exposed to what I would call peaceful traffic jams in India, not at all the kind of energy I experience in Boston traffic. Horns are tooted there (and often), rather than leaned on. 

A School for Special Children, Dhanbad, India
The Rotary Club of Dhanbad established, and funds on an ongoing basis the Jeevan Jyoti School for Special Children. Our group was given the special honor of presenting several students with new prescription eye glasses. The school is presently in need of 50 pairs of new hearing aids. The school of 100 students with a 5 to 1 student teacher ratio is entirely funded by the Dhanbad Club as their flagship project.
Saheli Center
At the Saheli Center young adults are taught sewing and computers upstairs, while downstairs there is cataract surgery and dialysis treatment going on. The Rotary Club of Giridih operates the center in an impressive main street building that was donated by a fellow Rotarian. Giridih is a “town” of about 250,000 residents. Our Dhanbad hosts drove us there in cars in what was by my lights a harrowing driving experience, more akin to a race than a commute. We should have been wearing helmets and following other standard NASCAR safety procedures. I was moved to bring a tradition from the Portsmouth Rotary club to the Dhanbad Club that evening – I administered a fine on Baharat, a member of the Dhanbad club that I labeled the “worst driver in all of Dhanbad”. I felt fortunate that no offense was taken by Baharat, and to make sure I paid his fine for him - 200 rupees.
Polio Vaccinations, New Delhi
Back in New Delhi we vaccinated scores of children 5 years and younger over a two day period. On a quarterly basis the government schedules what are called National Immunization Days (NID). India has been polio free since 2014. Rotary’s efforts in India to eradicate polio are characterized as the catalyst for success. What struck me most in administering the vaccinations was just how accepting and trusting the public was towards strangers from far away. It occurred to me that in India polio is still very tangible. Polio is not a collective faded memory like it is in the US. In India the crippling impact of polio is still there for all to see in community members, young and old impacted by the disease.
I’m already looking forward to my next Rotary International adventure. Rotary provides unique access to cultural exchange and I am more grateful than ever for that. The essence of cultural exchange is education on both sides. Rotarians have it right in India – education is the key. Education is the key everywhere and I look forward to continuing mine.