Posted by Doreen Higgins
At this moment, worldwide, there are less than a dozen new cases of polio for the year 2017. Thirty years ago the world saw more than a thousand persons a day stricken with this disease. This most remarkable turnaround has been achieved by the efforts of many; among them Rotary Clubs around the world have been a proud part and a major financial contributor. This day (10/25) is World Polio Day and our club proudly wore “END POLIO NOW” shirts to our Wednesday meeting.
We were addressed by Margaret Jacobs, our District Governor elect, who has a long held membership in Rotary clubs in the U.S. and in Australia. Margaret has an MBA from Portland (Oregon) State University and has pursued a professional career in management. In her global travels for work she maintained her Rotary connections, and in her talk to us she spoke of her experiences in India with the polio vaccine endeavors.

Margaret said she went to India with misgivings; life there is different from ours, she said, and she felt apprehensive of some of the sights she might encounter. While some of her fears were real, she found herself enchanted by many aspects of the life of the people she saw. She was in Delhi on National Independence Day and showed us pictures of street scenes with magnificent buildings, sacred cows, and people everywhere. She told us of the people she met and the graciousness of her hosts; there were many temples and street markets, women in lovely saris, and camels and elephants. She also mentioned the terrible pollution in India, due in part to its very large population.

Margaret turned her attention to the children she met. She saw daycare centers where children are taught and fed; some of these schools exist thanks to dollars from Rotary and from other benefactors. Margaret spoke of a foot prosthesis project for adults and children with deformed feet; this is funded by Dow, Stanford, and MIT. There is a dearth of medical specialists of all kinds in India, and in hospitals, she said, there is a distinction in treatment according to the ability to pay. Margaret was present at clinics where the polio vaccine was being administered; she witnessed the expediency with which the treatment is given allowing for the maximum coverage possible – 275 children vaccinated in two hours.

Margaret’s presentation was accompanied by pictures from various parts of India; while most showed life in day-to-day settings, her last picture was of the Taj Mahal, of legendary beauty. She thanked Rotarians around the world for their work against Polio and warned us we cannot relax; the disease is lurking, just waiting to come back.
Below is a photo of Lynn Gensamer and Margaret Jacobs.