Rotary’s fight against polio comes "Full Circle"
(20 October, 2008)— "Full Circle," a thought-provoking exhibition of photographs centered on Rotary’s final stand against polio took place last week at the Menier Chocolate Factory art gallery in London.
The fight against polio was illustrated through the photographs of London polio survivor and advocate Gautam Lewis, who traveled to his birthplace of Kolkata, India to immunize children against the disease. The massive global undertaking of polio eradication led by Rotary and its partners was further developed through the images of photographer Jean-Marc Giboux, who has documented the battle against polio in its remaining strongholds of India, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan throughout the past decade.
Abandoned after contracting polio at age three, Lewis spent two years living at Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, followed by two more years of operations at the Rehabilitation Centre for Children. Lewis was later adopted by Dr Patricia Lewis, a dual national (UK/Ireland) nuclear physicist, and raised in New Zealand and London— his life developing in stark contrast to his days as one of India’s poorest children. After learning about Rotary’s work to eradicate polio, he became inspired to help Rotary end the disease forever.
The weeklong photo exhibition, jointly organized by Rotary International and Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland (RIBI), was attended by more than 350 people. More than 100 people attended the launch reception, including the High Commissioner for Pakistan, representatives from the World Health Organization, DFID, Sightsavers, The Stroke Association, and the UK Department of Health.
To date, Rotary has contributed more than US$700 million toward eradicating polio, a figure which will rise to more than US$850 million by the time the world is certified polio-free. Rotary members have helped immunize over two billion children in 122 countries and are currently working to raise US$100 million more to match a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in the same amount. The general public can participate at www.rotary.org/endpolio.