National Immunization Day Ethiopia
Today began the two-day National Immunization Day here in Ethiopia.
The group I am traveling with includes about 35 people from the U.S. and Canada, all of whom traveled to the other side of the world to immunize kids they didn’t know and will likely never see again against a disease that hasn’t made anyone in the U.S. or Canada sick in decades.
Barbara Finley broke down in tears after immunizing a handful of kids at a school today.
The remarkable thing about Rotarians is their ability to see the big picture of polio eradication on a global scale and at the same time recognize what that means to each and every child individually. Rotarians can explain the different between monovalent and trivalent vaccines, name the three countries on the planet that remain polio endemic and at the same time tear up while giving the famous “two drops” to a single child.
The group of 35 Rotarians immunized fewer than 200 people today, but their efforts pay dividends far beyond this. Yesterday’s visit with President was featured in the local news and everywhere the North Americans go, throngs appear to find out what’s up. This attention ensures that thousands more will be immunized in this round than otherwise.
The presence of international visitors also fires up the local Rotarians, who are also actively engaged in the effort. While Rotary is relatively small in Ethiopia (as compared with the U.S. or India) it’s presence in the polio eradication effort here is nonetheless pervasive.
While some might characterize the polio eradication effort as a war against the polio virus, as you watch Rotarians at work, you recognize that they see this much more as a campaign for the health of the world’s children.