Thursday, November 23, 2006

Dennis Massengill

I hope this Thanksgiving finds all of you wonderful people well. You are doing great things for the world. Give Kathy Branham our best from Dennis and Pam.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

National Immunization Day in Niger

Posted by Rotarian Ann Lee

Our team of 15 arrived safe and sound in Niamey on Tuesday. We were met at the airport by Gaston Kaba, the PolioPlus Director of Niger and several Rotarians and Rotaractors. A brief drive and we were at the hotel. After a hot shower, a good meal and friendly talk we all retreated to our rooms to catch up on the time change and 15 hour journey. This morning, Wednesday, the team met with Dr. Alassoum Zeidou, the Head of Niamey Urban Community to determine where our teams would be most useful in the immunization days ahead. The team leaders had previously divided the 15 members into teams of two (one team of three). With that list we determined our distribution throughout Niamey. We will cover the three Medical Districts in Niamey spreading inside and outside the city boundaries as well as past the Kennedy Bridge along the border between Niger and Nigeria.

After lunch, team leaders, Dave Groner and Ann Lee Hussey traveled with Gaston Kaba to visit the chairwomen of the three Districts. The team leaders for Districts 1 & 2, Tanya Wolff-Molson and Keith Koke accompanied us along with three Rotaractors. Each Rotaractor has been assigned to help us on our days of immunizing. We observed the chairwomen educating and training the local health workers. Of most interest was a skit they performed as a tool to teach the workers how to deal with resistant families. They demonstrated how having volunteers from North America with their white skin, put resistant fathers at ease with administering the vaccine to their children. It was an education for us all. The Niamey people are joyful and friendly and the social interaction we shared with the health workers was a special experience. The National Immunization Days are nationwide in Niger for the next four days, Thursday thru Sunday. The team will immunize in the urban areas of their assigned District for the first three days and the fourth day will be spent in the more rural regions of their District.

In addition to the polio drops, team members and health workers will also be giving Vitamin A to the children to give a boost to the children's immune systems and work to fight avoidable blindness. The biggest challenge in Niger exists along the Nigerian border where a mass transit of Nigerians from Nigeria and Nigeriens from Niger occurs daily. Niger's aim is to maintain the pressure on Nigeria to continually improve upon their immunization program. Niger was removed from the list of endemic countries in 2005. It has experienced 11 paralytic polio cases so far in 2006, all importation cases from the polio virus circulating in Nigeria. We are grateful on the eve of our Thanksgiving Day to also be on the eve of immunization days in Niger. As we expressed to the health-care workers - "together we can do it." Thanks to all the Rotary Clubs and the Rotary Foundation contributing to make immunization days for polio a reality.

"Hope lies in dreams, in imagination and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality." Jonas Salk

Monday, November 20, 2006

Immunizations Days in Niger

I am a member of the Dowagiac, Michigan Rotary club. As a Rotary club member I can volunteer with Rotary International and be a part of their humanitarian efforts. As a Rotary volunteer I am able to administer the polio vaccine to children with limited access to vaccines. As such, I help to give a mother, a family, a community, and hopefully an entire nation the opportunity to live a polio-free life. The simple act of administering vaccine gives me great personal joy and satisfaction to know that I have contributed toward creating a healthy child, a healthy family and a better world.

Seeing a child’s smile, seeing a mother’s pride in her family makes my life worth living. I enjoy interacting with healthy, energetic children. It does not matter the color of a child’s skin or what language they speak. I find great discomfort when I encounter a child sick or suffering from a totally preventable disease.

I have been a team leader for 15 Polio Eradication National Immunization Rotary Volunteer Teams. Most of my travels have been to India, but I have also traveled to Nigeria, Mali, and Egypt and previously to Niger. Often volunteers administer vitamins along with vaccines. NID volunteers end up assisting local Rotarians in drilling deep, freshwater wells, providing books, clothing and medicine to orphanages and schools, purchasing wheelchairs, hospital equipment, ambulances or corrective surgeries funded by themselves or their Rotary clubs through the Rotary Foundation with matching grants or as a World Community Service project.

It is a joy to return to Niger and once again work with the Rotarians and Rotary clubs of Niger; working side-by-side with old friends and new, sharing our dreams for healthy Niger children.

Rotary clubs and Rotarians are good neighbors to children wherever they live. As a volunteer I experience firsthand a mother’s joy, her smile and a “thank-you” Rotary. These small acts of international kindness can lead to a better way – a more tolerant and peaceful world. I am proud to be a Rotarian, a Rotary volunteer and a supporter of Rotary International’s goal for a Polio-Free world. My Thanksgiving and Christmas will be very special thanks to Rotary.

-Dave Groner
Rotary Club of Dowagiac, Michigan, District 6360

Thanksgiving in AFRICA!

As we get ready to begin our journey, I am indeed thankful that I have a supportive and prayerful family that will keep me safe and doing God's work. This will be my first NID trip and my first visit to Africa. As a polio survivor, I felt compelled to travel on an NID trip and the time is especially right. During my recent Zone Institute training, I spoke briefly with in-coming RI President, Wilf Wilkinson, who told me that one of his most satisfying moments as a Rotarian was doing an NID trip. As a polio survivor, I am especially excited about delivering vaccine drops to children. I am very thankful for the generous help of my Chesterton-Porter Rotary club members whose contributions have made it possible to take a full suitcase of medical supplies. Thanks also to the Chesterton campus of Porter Hospital, Dr. Jim Arnold and to Michelle McKibben for their donations of medical supplies as well. As time permits, I will update this site. For now, I am off to the Detroit airport where we leave tonight at 6:50pm for Paris - and then on to Naimey

Friday, November 17, 2006


It is with great excitement and eagerness that I travel to Niger for the first time. I have been a volunteer on a National Immunization Rotary Volunteer Team eight times before, traveling repeated times to India, and once each to Mali and Egypt. This volunteer team to Niger will be my second opportunity serving as a co-leader of a team, sharing with the first timers the sensory overload of a new culture and a new country. More importantly is sharing the same mission of contributing to making a world that is polio free.

For me, delivering polio drops into the mouth of a child is especially gratifying, perhaps more so than to others. There is the knowledge that I am helping in an area with limited resources and limited access to preventable medicines, but it is more than that. As a polio survivor, I do not want others to face the often painful experiences polio brought me. Polio brings not only physical pain but also emotional pain. In a world where we have had a polio vaccine for over 50 years, others should not have to experience polio's effects. I grew up with a favorite Uncle who contracted polio when he was five years old. His strengths and ability to cope with his handicap were an inspiration to me, not only as a child but also as an adult. My Uncle is now a paraplegic, unable to even feed himself, due to the effects of post polio syndrome. For you see, polio is cruel both in it's initial wrath upon one's body and in its ability to destruct further in later years. It is sad enough to imagine life as a disabled person in a poor developing country. But even worse, imagine life as an aging polio survivor in a developing country unaware of post polio effects and with limited medical resources. The images of the crawlers in the streets of India during my very first NID trip haunt me to this day. I am fortunate. I have polio but I was born in an area where I received great medical attention early in my illness. I know I am blessed when compared to so many others.

And so, I continue my journeys to do my small part to make a polio-free life for others. As I leave on each trip I am reminded of my Uncle's words the first time I traveled to immunize for polio, "If you can prevent just one child from suffering from polio, you will have done your job." I know I have accomplished his request but I feel my job is not finished and so off to Niger with old friends, eager to make new friends.

My Thanksgiving will only mean more this year than in past years. I have much to be thankful for, including this opportunity to help those in far more need than I. I am truly blessed this holiday season.

Ann Lee Hussey
Rotary Club of South Berwick, Maine District 7780

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

WAPF: This is the 2nd annual project fair in West Africa. African Rotarians came to Accra from Ghana, Benin, Cote Ivoire, Nigeria, Togo, Liberia and Burkina Faso. International Rotarians came from the US, Canada, Netherlands (27!), Germany, the UK and Switzerland (me). I was disappointed to see that the Sierra Leone clubs did not attend, since I was hoping to discuss a project with my friends at RC Nyon-la-Cote in Switzerland.

The African clubs presented their projects to the visitors, to generate international projects, possibly involving Rotary Foundation matching funds through a WCS grant. In many cases though, the African projects would not be very expensive, especially if one of the donor clubs has expertise in a particular area such as water, or can access used school or medical supplies.

NID: Polio is almost eradicated in Africa, but close is not good enough. Ghana was certified as polio free a few years ago, but was reinfected by refugees. If no cases are found this year (the third year in a row), Ghana will be certified polio free again. Nigeria has been difficult, but NIDs there ought to clear Africa entirely. This year the Ghana NID included measles shots, vitamin A and anti-malaria bed nets as well as polio drops for children less than one year old.

The 2006 Ghana NID was funded by WHO, Ghana, the Japan Embassy and other NGOs besides Rotary [Many thanks to those of you who contributed to Polio Plus]. Ghanaian Rotarians provide organization and transportation, and bring in volunteers like us non-African Rotarians who want to see polio wiped out forever. Jerra Rowland, from my club of Cupertino CA, and I were part of a team that went to a neighborhood in Tema, Ghana. A public health nurse gave the shots but other tasks were done by us volunteers.

The mothers come voluntarily for the free treatments. They know polio since it has only recently been controlled here, but malaria is endemic. The DDT-impregnated bed nets were the most popular items. Polio is now a remote danger, but mosquitoes are everywhere and malaria is almost a certainty. The nets were given to mothers with children two years old and younger (but we didn’t ask for proof of age), since the disease is quite serious for infants.

Projects at WAPF: We all left with many proposals. Water and literacy, two central drives with Rotary now, were of concern with all African clubs. DG Russ Hobbs and I shared a room; we tried to define the problems in some coherent way, but the different parts are so tied together that I didn’t see a single approach. Water is tied to health is tied to population is tied to literacy…It’s all a knot. Choose a problem where you can help, and go at it.

Visiting an event like this made me appreciate how supported we are in the developed world by our infrastructure of education, government, and public health.
-- Dave Stearns, RC Cupertino CA D5170

Rotary members protect children from Polio in Ghana

Ghana has succeeded in recording no wild polio virus for three-continuous years. In support of these efforts, business and professional leaders from The Netherlands and the United States traveled to Ghana to help immunize children under the age of five against polio during Ghana’s Integrated Child Health campaign from 1-5 November.

The 120-plus-member team administered the drops of oral polio vaccine to children from fixed posts that were established in every community throughout the country. In addition to polio immunizations, children were immunized against measles, received Vitamin A supplements and free bed nets to help prevent malaria and other mosquito born illnesses.

produced by Phillippe Lamoise

Rotarians Fight to end Polio in Ghana

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Millions of Children in Ghana Vaccinated Against Polio

Rotary members use these coolers to carry the Polio vaccine to the differant immunzation posts. Ghana had been having issues with thier power and was working 12 hour on 12 hour off shifts to keep energy. However, in order to keep the vaccine at the proper temperature the government kept the power on for all five NID days.
The children are thrilled to have visitors and love to see themselves in the digital camera. Here we are inside the city of accra. The Rotary members were split into several groops and were sent all over Ghana.
Hundreds of local nurses volunteered during the NID days. In addition to polio immunizations, children under the age of five also recieved measle vaccine injections, Vitamin A supplements and were given free bed nets to help prevent malaria and other mosquito born illnesses.

Here a child is immunzied against Polio by a Rotary volunteer. This little girl had shown up all on her own. After a child is immunized they are often given piece of candy so that their friends also come to get vaccinated.