People of action around the globe
World Polio Day ideas from around the globe
More than 5,900 World Polio Day events were held in 2019.
The Rotary Club of Seattle and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation co-sponsored a World Polio Day panel discussion last October. Around 150 people gathered to hear insight into the eradication effort from Sidney Brown, program officer with the Gates Foundation; Denny Wilford, a polio survivor and member of the Rotary Club of Gig Harbor Midday, Washington; and Ezra Teshome, PolioPlus subcommittee chair of District 5030 (Washington). The event was moderated by Mark Wright, a Seattle news anchor and member of the Seattle club. “When I speak at events,” says Wright, “I often talk about polio, because the effort to eradicate polio is proof that no problem is too big.”
Last year, the Rotaract Club of Iquitos assembled eight bands for a concert in observance of World Polio Day, raising $200 for End Polio Now. “During the show, the band mem-bers interacted with the audience, informing them about the purpose of the concert and encouraging them to continue supporting this cause,” reports Fernando Alonso García Torres, a member of the club. The Rotaract club was one of several clubs in Iquitos to hold events during the week, ranging from a Zumba dance party organized by the Rotaract and Interact clubs of Iquitos to a family-friendly bicycle rally.
Two of the three wild poliovirus strains have been eradicated.
District 2510 called on three of Japan’s foremost practitioners of good humor to tackle the serious topic of polio last year. The End Polio Charity Theater on 21 October at Sapporo’s Erinji Temple featured Shiko Katsura, a specialist in a traditional art of comic monologues known as rakugo, and Suzuran, a duo known for a rapid-fire style of standup comedy called manzai. Attendees donated nearly $500 to End Polio Now. The program was developed by Dainin Habu, a regional Rotary Foundation coordinator. The event was modeled on a 2014 performance, which also featured Katsura, along with Shanti, a popular jazz singer.
Faisalabad’s iconic clock tower serves as the city’s focal point. In the hands of the Rotary Club of Faisalabad Cosmopolitan — which bathed the structure with purple and yellow floodlighting for three nights beginning 24 October — it was transformed into a signpost for End Polio Now.
“This is the second time the club has illuminated the tower,” says club member Mubasher Siddiq Butt; the first was six years ago. “In 2014, my club organized a seminar and invited government officials and gave them a detailed presentation” about the idea, says Butt. The presentation included information about other architectural gems that have received similar treatment, such as the UK’s House of Parliament and the Sydney Opera House in Australia. Satisfied that the tower stood in good company, the officials approved the illumination. In 2019, based on the success of the first event, all it took was a brief multimedia presentation to persuade the new administration.
Besides flipping the switch and unfurling an End Polio Now banner, Butt and other Rotarian and local dignitaries held a ceremony discussing Rotary’s leadership role in Pakistan, which, along with Afghanistan, is one of the countries where cases of wild poliovirus continue to be reported.
Inspired by Rotarians’ train rides to raise awareness and funds in Sydney, Australia, and other cities, members of the Rotary Club of Dunedin traversed their city by public buses on 24 October, collecting about $1,100 from fellow riders. “This project was a win for ending polio, a win for encouraging citizens to ride the buses, and a win for the profile of Rotary in the city,” says Club President John Drummond. “Several bus trips became classes on the history of polio and its effects.”
— BRAD WEBBER
• This story originally appeared in the June 2020 issue of The Rotarian magazine.