It has been well over a year since South
Asia, where I am from, was declared
polio-free. Thanks to our work, polio
is gone from that part of the world.
But the memory of polio, and of the
fear it caused, is still fresh. In India,
in Bangladesh, everyone still knows
someone for whom the worst
nightmare became a reality: A child one
day seemed a bit unwell, then woke
with a fever, and never walked again.
In my home of Sri Lanka, the victory over polio came earlier.
We were one of the first countries in the region to eradicate
polio in the 1990s with the help of our Rotary Foundation. We
had the great advantage that Sri Lankan society is quite literate,
and 90 percent of births at that time were in hospitals. But we
were also dealing with a very significant challenge: We were
then 10 years into what would become a 26-year civil war.
As Rotarians, we knew the war was simply another obstacle to
overcome. In the end, we negotiated with the rebels to secure a
two-day ceasefire. The letter we received from them, agreeing to
the terms, read, “Our war is not with children. We will lay down
our arms, if your government will lay down theirs.” And so it was.
We drove out into the rebel-held areas, riding in our jeeps with
our coolers of vaccine and our white flags, and we vaccinated all
of our children — Tamil and Sinhalese alike. Today, because of
Rotary, all of Sri Lanka, like all of South Asia, is polio-free.
Far from being over, our work must now intensify, for we have no
time to spare, and no room to fail. Your role is more important
than ever. Now is the time to spread the word, to raise awareness,
to support our work: in your communities, on social media, with
your elected representatives, and through our Foundation. The
long race is nearly over. The finish line is in sight. This is our time
to Be a Gift to the World: to End Polio Now.
OBSERVE WORLD POLIO DAY
To mark World Polio Day, we will again be hosting a live-streamed
global status update from New York on 23 October. The event will
recognize recent milestones we’ve achieved in the fight to end polio,
as well as focus on the work that remains to be done.
You can help us observe World Polio Day and raise awareness of our
polio eradication efforts.
HOST A VIEWING PARTY:
Organize your friends or
Rotary club members to watch
the live event together.
Invite your elected officials and
community leaders to attend
your viewing party.
CREATE YOUR OWN
WORLD POLIO DAY EVENT:
Host a community event like
an End Polio Now lighting.
Organize a fundraising event
to support polio eradication.
Every dollar Rotary commits
to the cause will be matched
with two dollars from the Bill &
Melinda Gates Foundation.
Send a letter to the editor;
suggest a polio eradication
story to a local reporter.
Be sure to share your photos
on social media with the
GET THE WORD OUT:
Download the World Polio
Day toolkit for sample tweets
and Facebook posts to share.
Use the End Polio Now
logos on your website, blogs,
newsletters, and social media
Change your Facebook cover
photo and Twitter avatar to
World Polio Day graphics.
Embed the Livestream video
player on your club or district
Follow the End Polio Now
Twitter account and
Facebook page and share
TAKE PART IN THE LIVE
Go to the Livestream page and
add the event to your calendar.
Watch the live update on
endpolio.org on 23 October.
Follow the live event on social
media and share it with your
Join the conversation during
the event on the Facebook and
Twitter End Polio Now pages.
BE A PART