Push to end polio draws alumni support
Tim Shadbolt (center), mayor of Invercargill, congratulates Xaver Hausner (right) and Oliver Macindoe on the completion of their 2,000-mile Journey of Hope in support of polio eradication. Photo courtesy of Xaver Hausner
Even before completing his studies as a 2009-10 Ambassadorial Scholar in New Zealand, Xaver Hausner says he “wanted to give something back to Rotary International and the world in general.”
Hausner, of Wurzburg, Germany, followed through in a big way. He and a friend, Oliver Macindoe, cycled more than 2,000 miles across New Zealand, raising about US$37,000 for Rotary’s US$200 Million Challenge .
The cyclists completed their 54-day Journey of Hope from Cape Reinga to Bluff on 16 January.
“One of the biggest lessons from this [fundraiser] is that when you work for the good of others, people are so keen to help you,” the cyclists blogged at the end of their journey. “We can see this is one of the greatest strengths of Rotary.”
Sarah Perry, a 2010-11 Ambassadorial Scholar from West Virginia, USA, raised more than US$10,400 for the polio eradication campaign by running the Rotterdam Marathon in the Netherlands in April. She got the idea while speaking to Rotary clubs in Scotland, her host country.
“As I came to understand more and more about Rotary’s worldwide push to rid polio from the final four countries in the world [Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, Pakistan], it struck a chord with me and I started to wonder if there was something I could do to help with some fundraising,” Perry says.
In addition to giving back to Rotary for her scholarship, Perry says she ran the marathon “to ensure that polio can no longer rob children of their ability to walk, run, and play like so many other children around the world.”
Esha Chhabra took part in National Immunization Days (NIDs) in India in 2009 and 2010, before and during her studies as an Ambassadorial Scholar in England. Chhabra, who was born in India and grew up in California, USA, worked alongside “college students who volunteered their free time, local Rotarians who accompanied us, and young health workers who took the mission to heart,” she says of her second NID. “I saw an army of volunteers of varying colors, creeds, and nationalities march in a parade through [Delhi] in the hundreds, shouting in Hindi, ‘We must erase polio.’ ”
Group Study Exchange teams also take part
During India’s NID in January, the country’s Rotarians, joined by their counterparts from Hong Kong, Italy, Korea, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, helped immunize 174 million children. In Veraval, Gujarat, a participating Group Study Exchange (GSE) team from District 9980 (New Zealand) reported that “the town clearly bought into the whole project, and kids were flowing into the booths for immunizations.”
Participating in a NID in India also made a profound impression on Gordon Hedahl, who a led a GSE team from District 5960 (parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin, USA) in 2010.
“After 17 years as a Rotarian, hearing about and financially supporting PolioPlus, I don’t have words to express how moving it was to be able to administer drops to those small children,” he says. “I am really looking forward to the day when we can declare that we have totally eradicated this disease.”