The road to eradicating polio has been a long and difficult one, with Rotary leading the fight. Going from nearly 350,000 cases in 1988 to just 10 so far this year.  It has required time, money, dedication, and innovation from thousands of people.  Health workers and Rotary volunteers have climbed mountains, crossed deserts, and sailed to remote islands, risking their lives to vaccinate children against this disease.  Thanks to the efforts of Rotary and its partners, more than 16 million people who otherwise might have been paralyzed are walking today. In all, more than 2.5 billion children have been vaccinated since 1988.
Turning from the global level to our own backyard, local Rotarians have been pushing polio eradication for many years and this past year members of each local Rotary Club travelled to India to take part in a National Immunization Day project.  Sharon Miller and Gilles Renaud from the Cornwall Sunrise Rotary Club and Carolyn and Rick Taylor from the Cornwall Rotary Club, together with two guests, Ghislain Bourbonnais and Suzie Pilon, helped to immunize over 200 children in rural areas near Agra, the site of the Taj Mahal.  In addition, the group visited local schools sponsored by Rotary and an orphanage in Delhi supported by local charity Child Haven.
This experience was truly remarkable, powerful and rewarding, so much so that Sharon and Gilles are returning in January of 2019 with one of their children and two grand-children to do it all over again!
This kind of project is only possible through the support and generosity of local groups and the Cornwall Sunrise Rotary Club wishes to underline the great participation of both their Interact Club at CharLan District High School and their Early Act group involving students in the Eagle Wings club at Eamer’s Corners Public School.  After sharing their story and some photos of their trip each of the clubs were inspired to raise money for the “End Polio Now” campaign by hosting a Purple Pinkie event.  At the event each person who donated a minimum of $1 (the cost of the actual vaccine) got to dip their pinkie finger in purple dye to symbolize their contribution as this is done to each child immunized in order to show that they have received the life-changing vaccine.  Purple Pinkies quickly became the new “fad”!
Of note, every dollar raised is matched by the Government of Canada on a 2 for 1 basis, and then again by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  As a result of this leveraging, students who took part in these initiatives raised $4,000 allowing 4,000 children to avoid the potential threat of contracting polio.
We want to do more in the coming year and we invite interested elementary or high schools to set up Early Act or Interact Clubs with the help and ongoing support of either the Rotary Club of Cornwall Sunrise or the Rotary Club of Cornwall.  As well, membership in either club is open to interested professionals who are looking to contribute locally and globally to help promote world peace and understanding and to embrace Rotary’s motto of “Service Above Self”.  For more information please contact us through Facebook or via the web.  Join us and discover the change it can make, starting with you!