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Linda Bertuzzi – Polio Plus in India
September 8, 2016 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
I have been really blessed to have been involved with Rotary’s Polio Plus program with my travels to the remote villages in India for the last five years to administer the Polio vaccine – just two drops for each child. This program was begun over 35 years ago with a focus on eradicating Polio from the face of the planet and at that time nearly 1,000 new cases of Polio were being reported daily. We are now under 20 for the entire world, year-to-date, and while the work must continue until we have zero for three consecutive years, this program has gone beyond the Polio vaccines. Thanks to the vision of Rotary Dream Team leaders PDG Elias Thomas of Maine and Rotarian Sanjiv Saran of Delhi, India, Rotarians from all over the world now come together as part of the Team to not only immunize the children of India, but also participate in the building of a water reservoir/retention dam to provide “sweet water” fed by the monsoons for the thousands of villagers. The hands-on work by Rotarians and friends has bridged the barriers of language to provide understanding and respect and provided a safe location for water harvesting, eliminating the need for the women to travel for hours to get water for their family. With the women now closer to home, this frees up the children from the confines of caring for their siblings and allows them to attend school. The water also provides a safe drinking supply, improving health for everyone in the village. My vision for the last few years has been to engage our youth, and not necessarily Rotarians, in this program and allow them to share in the experience of Service Above Self. This particular year was the most memorable with five wonderful young men and women working to change the lives of others, with smiles on their faces and joy in their heart as they worked tirelessly on the dam and immunized the babies. The story now can be told through the eyes of our children to inspire others and continue our work to build a better world.