Cornwall Rotary Club takes up battle against Polio

Monday, October 24 was World Polio Day and to do their part to help eradicate the dreaded disease once and for all, The Cornwall Rotary Club held a special luncheon at the Ramada Inn.  The Rotary Foundation’s End Polio Now Program held a World’s Greatest Meal event with special guest speaker, Fay Campbell, Area Governor for the Rotary Club. Campbell was part of a National Immunization Day program in India in 2015 where the Indian government wanted to give two million children the polio vaccine in two days.

“They reached out to Rotarians and other service clubs around the world for help,” said Campbell. She told the Cornwall Rotarians about her adventures in India and Pakistan.

“We stayed in an area called Ghaziabad and we had to wake up at 4 a.m. to make the hour drive to the inoculation site,” she said. The inoculations were only given between 7 a.m. and noon because of the heat and the volatility of the area with regards to political unrest.

She said there were also a lot of cultural differences which proved to be challenging. They were seen as outsiders and not necessarily trusted. And because they were only inoculating children under five, they had to determine a way to guess a child’s age. “You take the child’s arm and put it over their head,” said Campbell. “If they can touch the opposite ear, they are over five years old.”

Her experiences in Pakistan were a little different. They were not trusted to give the vaccine themselves and had to train Pakistani women on how to administer the drops.

Campbell has been a Rotarian for just 12 years and has been involved in immunization days twice. “I love doing this,” she said. “Meeting new people and seeing the good work Rotarians are doing around the world. It’s unbelievable.”


“World’s Greatest Meal was started quite a while ago as an easy way for people to raise funds,” said Ariane Carriere, past-president of the Cornwall Rotary Club. “We hadn’t really picked an activity for World Polio Day, so when I found out our lunch meeting was going to be on that day, I said to our president, Barb MacLean, we should sign up for World’s Greatest Meal.”

Carriere said they asked Campbell to speak at their lunch because of her involvement with the NID. The Rotary Club is determined to eradicate polio in every country in the world. There are currently only four countries who have had cases reported recently, India, Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan.

“Pakistan is really trying to control it,” she said.

Carriere said there have only been 16 cases reported in the world in 2016, but even one case is not acceptable. “As long as there is even just one (case), it’s not eradicated,” she said. “If there are no more cases of polio, we still have to vaccinate for another three years before we can say it is really eradicated.”

In addition to the meal, the Cornwall Rotary Club also had a Purple Pinkie event. When a child received an inoculation, their pinkie was dyed purple so workers would know they were vaccinated. At Monday’s lunch, every Rotarian who donated extra money had their pinkie finger dyed purple.

So far the Rotary Foundation has raised over $2.2 million so far. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is matching what they raise two to one. The amount raised so far translates into more than 110,046,000 polio vaccinations.