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I learned how to change a tyre when I was nine years old. Under the supervision and breezy guidance of my father, I enthusiastically located the extra tire in the back of our Mark II van, pushing aside velveteen curtains and smoke-stained seat covers with abandon. I lugged the hulking mass of rubber – approximately half the size of my body – to its destination, fervently rotated the handle of the jack until the van was appropriately elevated (“You should probably stop there, baby doll.”), and loosened nuts with a single-mindedness unrivaled by most adolescents. This effort was all the result of one of my dad’s casual references to what anyone worthwhile should know:
“Anyone worth her salt knows how to change a tire!”
“If you don’t know how to sort laundry, you haven’t lived!”
“All my favorite people love to make fresh squeezed orange juice!”
It is perhaps the most brilliant parenting technique known to humankind. Convinced it was my own fine idea, I successfully furnished the Mark II with a new tire – all by myself! - and felt my entire existence immediately validated. I gave it a sturdy kick, the crowning gesture which seemed most appropriate for my newfound status as a fully-realized human. My dad employed this method repeatedly throughout my childhood, suavely convincing me that whatever he wanted me to learn was actually something I had dreamed up myself. How to check oil. How to make a fire. Lessons were varied and endlessly useful.
After years of his educational sleight-of-hand, I was convinced that I could take on almost anything. Most of all, I dreamed of a road trip – one with lots of auto failures and campouts, especially. I yearned to show my dad that even though I couldn’t emulate his hippie-haired Woodstock glory days, I could create my own Kerouacian adventures and survive with just as many good stories to tell. Here, the day has finally and fortuitously come! And with a mission that would make any parent proud: To build a movement towards the end of extreme poverty.
In February, I’ll be taking off on the road trip of my dreams with three other Global Poverty Project “Road Scholars,” and I’m ready for whatever the road has to throw at me. For three months and two weeks, I’ll be using the base of those concrete lessons to share some big ideas. We will be touring the nation – 100 stops – and talking to a lot of people – 20,000 of them. We’ll spend most of our time in a van, this one sorely lacking in velveteen curtains, but emblazoned with some pretty amazing GPP regalia.
At each stop, we’ll be sharing GPP’s 1.4 Billion Reasons presentation, which demonstrates that ending extreme poverty is a matter of justice, a most necessary gesture of humanity that our generation needs to make. The presentation gives viewers a solid understanding of why 1.4 billion people in the world are living in extreme poverty, what barriers prevent its eradication, and what we can all do to make things a little better for the world’s worst-off. I’m thrilled by the thought that I’ll have a chance to share this message with so many others; it’s telling these stories and discussing these ideas that makes change in the world, one person at a time.
Best of all, the 2013 Spring Tour will be live-mapped, blogged, youtubed, tweeted, and posted about on our Global Citizen platform, so our dads and everyone else can follow our progress. Check out ourSpring Tour pageto learn more about hosting and look at this map to see if we'll be coming to your area – and if we’re not, it’s not too late to book a presentation! Get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to add your city to the road trip of a lifetime and share 1.4 Billion Reasons with your community.
An important pre-note to this post: the example I will share with you here is just the latest of many projects from the Rotary Pakistan PolioPlus Committee which has been gathering momentum over the last few years, working closely with the Government of Pakistan and its partners (WHO & UNICEF) to end polio in the country.
Let me describe the scene for you: dense ramshackle shelters, no sanitation infrastructure, no access to clean water, a scarcity of food (or only available to those who can afford it), and a distinct lack of schools, clinics, medicine, doctors and, seemingly, paid employment. It’s not that everyone is sitting around doing nothing – quite the reverse in fact. Everyone is productive, but the way their dirty kamis (common long shirt to the knees) hang off their wiry bodies, you know they are not being paid much, or anything, for their labour. This is the reality of Site Town, Karachi, where I spent a few hours. This is one of the most disadvantaged areas of Karachi which heaves with 22 million people, and who knows what proportion of those live with adequate access and opportunities.
I was driven from another part of Karachi, the Defence area, where the houses make Australian houses look small. But there is a man and a community organisation that is doing their best to share their wealth, experience and expertise with others in their huge city.
In the middle of Site Town I visited the Site Town Rotary Polio Resource Centre. This is a shining beacon for that community and others in the area. It is primarily a school, and the only one in the area, but built into the practises of this school are toilets, clean water, a food program and, most impressively, a vaccine housing and distribution centre.
The man I referred to earlier is Aziz Memon and the organisation, Rotary. Aziz seems to be a very busy and successful business man, but he has brought together the right people and right resources to make the Resource Centre a reality. Those around Aziz are just as impressive in their commitment and expertise.
Over the years I have been able to see a lot of aid and development projects and let me just list some of the great features of this particular model:
It is from the community for the community - this is not a white man telling the local people what to do - it has come from the people of Karachi in consultation with education professionals, community leaders and local government, with the support of those they service.
Much more than a single purpose - it was set up as a polio vaccine distribution centre to service some of the hardest-to-reach children in an area where the population moves a lot and the refusal rate for vaccination is high. However their mandate isn’t to force the community to take vaccines, but rather to show they are there to support in all ways. People can choose to come to them for vaccines, or accept vaccines when they do a house visit, knowing that they are also providing education, clean water, food, etc to their child.
Very impressive outreach - while the school has limited capacity, their outreach is impressive. Clean water and toilets is accessible to all, the food program does as best it can to provide food to as many as possible. They also have 25 other hubs in four districts that provide polio vaccines on a regular and ongoing basis to 100,000 children in addition to the 4-5 annual national immunisation days.
A sustainable funding model - thanks to some local Rotary Clubs, Government and other reliable sources of income, the centre has the funds to not only build this centre but continue its service.
The model is scalable - thanks to all the features I mentioned above, this is a model that could be adopted by other disadvantage communities throughout Karachi and around the country. The most polio-affected areas in Pakistan are obviously the poorest or most remote, but a community resource centre is something that could be integrated anywhere.
The purpose is polio but really it is poverty - eradicating polio is a global mandate we must achieve. Now that numbers are reduced to record lows we are able to incorporate broader services in health, education, sanitation, food security etc. Not that these things weren’t happening before, but now that almost every last child has been exposed to polio vaccine, the foundation is set for the leap forward addressing the bigger topics and issues of health and extreme poverty.
I am brimming with excitement once again writing down these points as I was when I visited in person a week ago.
As a part of my visit I was able to hand over a few posters of support from people outside of Karachi and Pakistan. The core team at the resource centre who saw this were amazed that famous cricketers, actresses, the people of Canada (with the ‘Purple Pinkie’ photos) and others who have attended concerts, sign petitions, written stories or cared in some way for the people working on the ground in Pakistan. The poster now proudly sits on their wall and will be showed to the children that we are all global citizens and can support each other and the things that work for them from their needs.
A massive thank you to Waheed and the team at the Resource Centre for having me visit; Mr Aziz Memon and his team for his vision, drive and support to establish the centre and facilitate my visit; and Rotary - the incredible group who took on the beast of polio but do so much more than that and this includes the Rotary Clubs of Canada, Pakistan and all over the world committed to making a polio-free world.
The biggest appreciation I have are for those who are there day to day living, working and surviving in these areas with such resilience and resourcefulness without expectations but instead with unbelievable humility and gratitude for any little access or opportunity they are afforded.
I usually don’t plug donations, as I prefer people to donate their time to campaigns, writing to government and other advocacy. But seeing the effectiveness of this program and knowing that all donations to the Rotary PolioPlus Fund are so effective, I have to promote this:
And for all those Canadians out there, hear this! If you give to the Rotary PolioPlus Fund in Canada your donation will be tripled, being matched by Canadian International Development Agency from the Canadian Government and then again by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In other words, your $50 will become $150 and, for a project like the Resource Centre, that is a lot of food for their program, filters to clean their water, vaccines to end polio and so much more – follow the link above and choose Canada for your donation.
-- d'Arcy is a member of The End of Polio team at the Global Poverty Project, find him on Twitter:@darcylunn. This post originally appeared in his personal blog.
Ending extreme poverty in our generation is at the core of the Global Poverty Project.
It's the belief on which the organisation was founded 4.5 years ago, and is quite literally, our vision statement.
It's the basis of our ground-breaking live presentation, 1.4 Billion Reasons, which tells the story of how we can see an end to extreme poverty within our generation – and the role that each of us as global citizens can play to make this world a reality.
Ending extreme poverty within a generation is the title of our most read blog post – which we reposted just last week.
And, it’s the theme of a tongue in cheek video we made a few years ago, heralding the end of extreme poverty, and your role in it – check it out here.
At the Global Poverty Project, we’re committed to doing all that we can to catalyse global citizens taking action to create this world.
As Justin Forsyth, CEO of Save the Children noted in the report today, "An historic achievement is within reach. By committing to these ambitious but achievable new targets, we really can become the generation that ends extreme poverty forever. For the first time, it is feasible to imagine that in the next two decades no child will die from preventable causes, no child will go to bed hungry and every child will go to school."
In Pakistan there has been some tragic deaths by militants against health workers serving life saving polio vaccines. Nadeem blogs on these killings and why we need to speak out to help end polio once and for all.
Polio is a very infectious disease which attacks the nervous system, causing paralysis and in the most severe cases, death. Its effects are irreversible and those affected, who are often the most marginalised in communities, are left permanently disabled.
I remember my granddad, who was a pharmacist in Kenya after the war, told me stories of polio plaguing the world in the 1930 to the 1950s. It caused widespread fear and mass panic to the point that schools were closed down and people locked themselves away in their homes. There was even a surge in manufacturing for crutches as people lost their ability to walk.
Skip to the present day and happily we are a stone’s throw away from eradicating this terrible disease for good. Polio now only exists in 4 countries: Nigeria, Afghanistan, Chad and Pakistan and there is a big push going on to supply vaccinations to eliminate it from those countries too.
That was until news broke last month that in Pakistan health workers have been attacked and killed by militants purely because they were administering these vaccinations. One of the first headlines of 2013 was another story of seven charity workers shot dead. This devastating news was followed by the announcement that the UN and WHO have now had to suspend polio campaigns across Pakistan abandoning a new generation to this disease.
As a Pakistani Muslim living in the UK, I have been sickened by this story and even more so that it has been justified in the name of my religion. There is no room in Islam, the faith that teaches us to love our neighbours, care for sick and to tend to the poor, for these barbaric and ignorant acts. The Qur’an teaches us that “if anyone saves a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind.” I would like to see the Muslim community in the UK, and particularly the Pakistani diaspora, taking a leading role in raising awareness about how vaccinations are a safe, cost effective way to end polio.
There have been some amazing successes so far because of vaccinations - we have completely eradicated small pox and diphtheria, and measles are rare and unheard of in today’s world. We are so close now and we cannot afford to let the momentum slow down. Just imagine that historic day when the world will unite in celebration because polio no longer exists! Let’s join together and make it happen.
This blog was originally published by Nadeem Javaid for MADE in Europe.
“The Programme has never been in a stronger position, but how history looks back on 2012 will depend on what happens next. The remaining polio virus now sits on just 0.2% of the Earth’s land mass. Are we seeing its last stand?”
This is the question asked by the Independent Monitoring Board in its latest report, released recently. This group of public health experts, led by Sir Liam Donaldson, the UK’s former Chief Medical Officer, meets quarterly to review progress towards global polio eradication.
So what does their latest report say?
First of all, the IMB congratulates the program on the amazing progress that has been achieved over the past year. Not only has 2012 seen record-breaking low case numbers, but polio has been beaten back to the smallest geographic area in history. As the IMB states, “by this time in 2011, there had been almost three times as many children paralysed, in four times as many countries”.
We really are closer than ever to wiping out polio.
But the IMB also has a warning for the program – don’t celebrate too soon because the virus could still resurge:
“Cries of ‘nearly there’ have been heard before... History cruelly shows that hard-won progress is easily lost. In 2001, the number of polio cases reached an all-time low. In the years that followed, progress went awry and the virus spread once more."
And spread it did. Check out this infographic from the report, showing how polio spread from northern Nigeria to 18 countries between 2002 and 2005, causing more than 1200 cases of polio:
How can we prevent similar outbreaks from happening again? The IMB has a number of suggestions for the agencies running global polio eradication operations, including ensuring strong leadership, high parental demand and robust microplanning – feedback that is being taken seriously by those working on the technical side of things.
While we’ll leave the operational aspects in the capable hands of the likes of WHO and CDC, there is something we can help with – and that’s ensuring global polio eradication efforts are fully funded.
We’ve been incredibly lucky that there haven’t been any outbreaks in 2012, as the funding shortfall has caused the cancellation of vaccination campaigns in many of the same countries that suffered polio outbreaks over the past decade. But unless we can come up with the funding to ensure that no more vaccination campaigns will be cancelled, eventually our luck will run out.
The partner agencies of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative are currently putting the finishing touches on a strategy to end polio in the next two years and to make sure that it can’t come back. We need to help them come up with the money to fund their activities until polio is finally gone. So get set for a whole new wave of campaigning in 2013!
·In Afghanistan, trials of Permanent Polio Teams have proven the strategy to be hugely successful. This strategy, which involves vaccination teams made up of local people, travelling from house to house, vaccinating children in their community on an ongoing basis (ie. not just during country-wide vaccination campaigns), has resulted in polio vaccine being provided to 146,000 children, including almost 9000 who had never before received a dose of the vaccine.
·Helicopters are being used to reach children in the Lake Chad area who are normally entirely cut off from other health services.
·In Nigeria, 1500 nomadic settlements have been identified for the first time.
·Direct disbursement mechanisms in Pakistan are ensuring that vaccinators receive the money they are due, on time - an incredibly important step in ensuring these frontline workers are motivated to go the extra distance to vaccinate every child.