In the media where only strife and conflict seem to get any attention, I reach out to tell you the stories of real people and organizations doing the most incredible job of making the world a better place.
Today, I reach out, once again, to my friends and colleagues in the Rotary World as we celebrate an historic moment in the global struggle to eradicate polio as India passed one year without a single case of polio. For someone who remembers the fear here in the United States back in the ’50’ before Salk and Sabin, there is a song in my heart and I’m filled with joy that the children and parents in this populous country can think of life after polio.
This milestone is the work of millions health workers, community leaders, politician and government leaders and Rotarians, UNICEF, WHO and CDC staff who lead National Immunization Days to distribute vaccine, closely monitor in villages and towns, and the parents who tirelessly work to be sure ALL the children receive oral vaccine. But we can’t let down our guard. Pakistan and Afghanistan are still endemic and India is susceptible for reinfection unless we support their efforts to vaccinate every child. Anywhere there is still polio, it’s a threat to us all.
If you would like to send the people of India a message of thanks and congratulations click here. Anyone can send a message.
Stand tall, India! This is a game changer in polio eradication. If you can do it, we can
Last June when I first wrote about Jhoole, the eco-conscious fashion organization, founded by the social entrepreneur, Hannah Warren, I was fascinated by the concept of building an organization beneficial to women living below the poverty line in India. The idea that the power of social enterprise could do battle with injustice, alleviate poverty and pay good living wages was really a noble purpose.
As I’ve followed Hannah and Jhoole these last months it’s been incredible to see where social enterprise and those people with the purpose of sustainability and ethical behavior leads: a charity partnership with the NGO, Chetanya Sewa , and community partners MATA TRADERS, Womanspace, Rock Valley College and India’s leading fiber-to-garment manufacturer, Pratibha Syntex, grants from the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International are but some of the wonderful things that are happening at Jhoole.
And it’s important to keep in mind that this non-profit puts 80% of the profits back into Jhoole so they can grow and provide employment for more women and 20% of the operating profit is donated to social initiatives in the community through their partnership with Chetyanya Sewa.
Plans for one of their largest ventures, a production and training center in Madhya Pradesh, designed pro bono by Mike Olson, are underway with the goal of building next year. This facility will provide training and work for almost 500 women as well as school for their children.
Hannah’s original reason for traveling to Madhya Predesh was to photograph the women weavers. When she got there she was so overcome by the beauty of the fabrics and poverty she saw her photographs became a photo journal. Click here to view.
2011 brought me into contact with so many old and new friends. As the end of the year approaches I thought a review of the people and organizations that served A Noble Purpose this year would be fun and a way to thank so many people for reaching out and helping others. Your work and compassion makes a joyful noise in our world today.
For the JOY of Literacy
For the JOY of Warmth
For the JOY of the Sun
For the JOY of Benevolence
For the JOY of Hats for Kids
For the JOY of Peace
For the JOY of Acting on Dreams
For the JOY of a Polio Free World
Coinciding with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Australia , 4000 people attended the End Polio Concert in Perth on Friday evening, October 28th raising their voices high to support the eradication of polio and calling on world leaders to commit financially to the effort.
According to an email I just received from the Global Poverty Project, “Less than 24 hours later, at a special press conference called just to discuss polio eradication, United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and Bill Gates declared their support for polio eradication efforts and collectively committed more than $100 million of additional funding for polio eradication efforts – significantly reducing the funding gap currently limiting vaccination efforts – and providing 100 million additional vaccines against this paralysing disease.”
This is a tribute to the long-term and ongoing efforts of Rotarians around the world and the hard work of the Global Poverty Project.
Listen to the video and pass along this important story of the power we all have to make a difference!
Q. What do you get when you take polio survivors, a zoo in Kinshasa, DR Congo, homemade musical instruments, and a strong message? A. Beautiful Music. And if you are luck enough to live in or near any of the US cities where Staff Benda Bilili is performing in September go see for yourself. One of their key messages – ‘the only real handicaps are not in the body but the mind.’ And as you watch and listen you only see the joy in the faces and the energy in the voices.
Appropriately enough Benda Bilili translates as ‘look beyond appearances’
You can read all about this extraordinary group by clicking on the link Staff Benda Bilili and treat yourself to a few moments of their music by clicking on
Imagine if you can, what the life of Debbie Sabin was like back in the 50’s as her father worked endlessly to find an oral vaccine to end polio. Now read her story and help us END POLIO NOW!!
Finishing My Father\’s Work
The story of how Rotary International got involved in polio eradication is one of forward thinking, taking action, controversy and daring to dream. It runs the gamut of several visionary RI Presidents, key players such as Dr.John Sever of the National Institute of Health, meetings in Evanston with Dr. Albert Sabin and the cooperation and volunteer service from 1.2 million Rotarians around the world. It’s a story that begins in 1978 and continues on today. It’s a complicated story about raising almost one billion dollars, stopping wars and working in remote parts of the world. It’s a story where over two billion children are alive today and polio free. It’s a story everyone must know and tell.
Some background information to keep in mind: in the 1950’s there were over 500,000 cases annually of polio worldwide Each year fifty thousand children would die and thousands more would be crippled or suffer permanent disability. Even with the Salk and Sabin vaccines that eventually protected the children in the United States, most countries still had thousands of case of polio on into the 1960’s and 1970’s.
And in 1978 some controversial things were happening in Rotary. The Rotary Club of Duarte, California had their charter cancelled for admitting three women to membership!! That’s another story for another time.
Now, although I could tell this story I would like you to experience it through the words of PRIPresident Cliff Dochterman (1992-1993). Please click HERE to read this compelling story.
If you are interested in Rotary history consider joining the Rotary Global History Fellowship.