When Teguest Yilma helped found the Rotary Club of Addis Ababa Entoto in 2002, she thought polio had already been eradicated from most of the world. But while Ethiopia had been free of the disease, Yilma was shocked to learn that new cases had started cropping up in surrounding countries such as Somalia.
“I was thinking, it’s not possible, we can’t be free if the countries around us are not free,” she says. Yilma, the managing editor of Capital, Ethiopia’s largest English weekly newspaper, has brought a journalist’s skills to the fight against polio. She became vice chair of the Ethiopia PolioPlus Committee in 2014. She believed her expertise in media could be particularly useful in relaying information about the campaign to end polio. “What better way of communicating than with a newspaper?”
Her efforts include publishing information about polio vaccinations and working alongside fellow Rotary members to expand immunizations and services to children who have suffered deformity or paralysis caused by the disease. Her journalistic and humanitarian efforts have not gone unnoticed. Last year, Yilma was given the French Legion of Honor, France’s highest distinction.
“I’m really interested and I’m really motivated by the truth,” she says. “Not only the public’s right to know, but also giving the public information that makes their lives better.”