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The Children Stopped Dying…after Rotary Came
By Eve Conway
President of Rotary in Great Britain and
These are the powerful words that have
stuck in my mind ever since I first heard them mentioned at my Rotary club:
“After Rotary drilled the wells, the children have stopped dying!” They are the
grateful words of a woman in the Dominican Republic as she recognized and
hugged a Rotarian from America who had started a water project to drill wells
in local villages.
About 25 per cent of the children there died before
the age of five due to contaminated drinking water, falling prey to waterborne
With money raised by his Rotary club, matched with
funds from The Rotary Foundation totaling $10,000, Rotarian Ric Jacobsen
implemented the project to drill three wells providing clean water in three
villages - and the children stopped dying.
And millions of children around the world “have
stopped dying, after Rotary came” thanks to our countless humanitarian projects,
made possible through Rotary’s own charity, The Rotary Foundation. This year we
are celebrating the centenary of The Rotary Foundation marking one hundred
years of our Rotary charity set up for the purpose of “doing good in the
The author poses with medical team
in Jawar, India.
American business news TV channel CNBC ranked The
Rotary Foundation as number three in its annual list of Top 10 Charities
Changing the World in 2016. Through The Rotary Foundation, Rotarians are able
to change and save lives – and to stop children dying – across the world and,
in the process, our lives are transformed as well by being able to make a difference
to our world.
Through The Rotary Foundation, I was able to work with
a group of Rotarians in London and Mumbai to start a successful project to stop
mothers and babies dying in childbirth. This involved a vocational training
team of senior midwives and a pediatrician from London going to India to train
local doctors, nurses and village community health workers. In the three years
since the project began, there has not been a single maternal death in Jawhar
hospital in a poor rural tribal area.
So The Rotary Foundation is something we can be proud
of from funding our countless projects to save lives and help communities, to
funding our global scholars programme and about 100 Peace Fellowships each year
We are on the brink of a historic milestone in
achieving Rotary’s goal of a polio-free world, a campaign we started in 1985
when there were a thousand new cases of polio a day in 125 countries.
Working with our partners in the Global Polio
Eradication Initiative, including the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, the US
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and more recently the Bill and
Melinda Gates Foundation, we have managed to reduce cases of polio by 99.9 per
cent, with just 35 cases in 2016 in three countries, Pakistan, Afghanistan and
And there is hope that we could possibly see the last
case of polio in 2017. We need three years of no new cases to declare the world
polio-free. That is why Rotary’s Purple4Polio campaign, launched when I became
President of Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland, is so vital to
raise funds and awareness to finish o. the job.
Rotarians across Great Britain and Ireland have
planted almost seven million purple crocus corms, working in partnership with
the Royal Horticultural Society’s community-based “Bloom” groups, promoting Rotary’s
campaign to eradicate polio. The crocuses will flower around Rotary’s 112th
birthday on 23rd February.
We have our Purple4Polio Ambassadors involved in the
campaign, including celebrity gardener Alan Titchmarsh, Paralympian,
broadcaster and polio survivor Ade Adepitan and TV Presenter Konnie Huq.
Rotarians made a promise to the mothers of the world
that their children would stop dying and being crippled by polio and we are now
so close to achieving our goal of a polio-free world, ending polio now and
Rotary Magazine (Great Britain and Ireland), March, 2017
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