The Rotary Club of Richmond Sunrise group will mark a milestone Thursday in their global organization’s role in helping wipe out polio with the assistance of the Canadian ambassador to the Philippines, Neil Reeder, and the Philippines Consul-General, Neil Ferrer.
The Rotary Foundation — a not-for-profit corporation that supports the efforts of Rotary International to achieve world understanding and peace through international humanitarian, educational, and cultural exchange programs — started its campaign to eliminate polio in the Philippines in 1979.
A Rotary grant provided for the immunization of six million children there and enabled the Philippines to be declared polio free. Since then, the foundation, together with governmental and NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) around the world, have immunized 3.5 billion children. That has helped bring the number of cases down from 1,000 each day, to the 2016 figure of only 19 since Jan. 1 this year, in two remaining countries.
To recognize the pivotal role played by the Philippines in this endeavour, the Sunrise club is welcoming the Philippine officials to an event at Catch Kitchen and Bar in Steveston.
Richmond’s five Rotary Clubs have been strong supporters of this campaign, both in funding the immunization program and supplying volunteers to perform the immunizations in many parts of the world.
Two area Rotarians who have taken part are husband and wife Chris and Penny Offer who are members of the Rotary Club of Ladner. They travelled with their team to India and the town of Nuh, Haryana, about 70 kilometres from Delhi. It is a predominately Muslim community that endures ongoing poverty and lack of basic public services.
“It is an emotional experience to have a mother pass you, a stranger from another country, their child to hold and give two life-saving polio drops.” said Chris, a past district governor for Rotary District 5040, which includes Ladner and Richmond.
“It is amazing to think that since making the pledge in 1985 to eradicate polio, Rotarians have worked together to battle the disease all over the world,” said Penny.