The visitor to India asked his name.
The woman said, ‘He has no name ... He is useless ... He has no name.”
The baby suffered from polio.
On another trip, this time in Nigeria, a 10-year-old girl met them at the airport with a bouquet of flowers in her hands. It was night. All around them a deep darkness. They all piled into a car, went through many roadblocks, flashlights suspiciously aimed in their faces at each. It was 2 p.m. by the time they got to the hotel that was protected behind a wall and heavy gate. They were up again at 4 a.m. There were so many people. Even more cows. They all were drinking and washing from the same dirty, filthy stream. But government officials were suspicious, and wouldn’t let them dispense the lifesaving vaccines. It was a U.S. plot to cause cancer or make children sterile, they group was told.
The visitors went to a different village nearby.
There, they were met by a mother holding her infant child. She reached out her arms and handed her baby to the group, as if in supplication. One of the group placed two drops of precious polio vaccine into the baby’s mouth.
They didn’t speak the same language, but the thankful smile on the mother’s face spoke all that was needed.
Finally, this child would have the opportunity to walk thanks to those few precious drops.
These polio eradication efforts first started with a program to eradicate polio from the Phillippines back in 1979.
“Those were precious drops,” said John F. Germ, past Rotary International vice president on the Rotary Foundation who has dedicated himself to helping to eradicate polio around the world. “Over the years, so many lives have been ruined that could have been saved for only 60 cents ... We proved it could be done in the Phillippines.”
Rotary raised the money needed then — around $750,000 — and then took the next step in 1984. Rotary decided to set a goal to raise $120 million because there were roughly 100 million children under the age of five in the world at the time and it costs around 60 cents for one two-drop dose of polio vaccine. It takes three doses over a period of six months to a year and a half to protect a child from this debilitating disease.
“Those were precious drops,” Germ said. “We proved it could be done.”
But, instead of $100M, Rotary raised $247M at that time.
That’s when, according to Germ, Rotary members decided: We can do this. We will do this.
Next, more money also was raised to provide surgery for children who had already become crippled with polio and needed surgery so they could walk again.
These were just some of what speaker Germ, P.E., and chairman and CEO of Campbell & Associates/consulting engineers in Chattanooga, told the Bradley Sunrise Rotary organization Thursday. He also currently is the vice chair of development for the International Polio Plus Committee. He recently stepped down from being the chairman of Rotary’s U.S. $200 Million Challenge Committee.
Most recently, Rotary International eventually met the challenge from the Melissa and Bill Gates Foundation to match its first $100,000 grant to help eradicate polio, which they did. Then, the Gates Foundation offered Rotary International another $255M if the international organization again raised another $100,000, which Germ was in charge of raising. Germ and Rotary more than met the challenge and raised $228.7M in less than three years during Germ’s tenure. The Gates Foundation subsequently gave another $50 million to Rotary to help eradicate polio for a total of $405M.
“This is a promise to the children of the world,” Germ said. “Rotary is the conscience of the polio eradication effort.”
In other business:
n Five new members recently were inducted into the Bradley Sunrise Rotary’s ranks recently — Scott Dorsey, owner of Dorsey Construction; Chelsea Long, resource developer with The Caring Place; Teresa Norman, associate pastor at Mount Olive Ministries; Ken Webb from Cleveland Utilities; and Zandra Welch, practice manager for the Plastic Surgery organization.
n Two more local organizations received donations from the Sunrise Rotary Foundation’s Sunrise Sunset Gala fundraising event this year. Anchor Point Foundtion Inc., which helps people overcome addictive behaviors, received $3,500. On Point, which encourages students to stay in school, received $3,000.