My name is Susanne Rea I am an Australian Rotarian and have been in Rotary since 1994.
I joined because I was interested in community work and Rotary offers a framework in which to work. Members the chance to look beyond themselves and through friendship with other Rotarians help change the world. I have especially worked in the areas of Dengue Fever Prevention and ending Child Slavery.
In 2013 I thought of a project to help fund the End of Polio and called it Worlds Greatest Meal to help End Polio. This has been spectacularly successful and together with a Team of rotarians raised more than $9 million.
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My Mission is to bring Awareness and Fundraising to help End Polio. Now endemic in only three countries - Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.
On a personal basis I have traveled the world speaking to Rotarians in 47 countries and taking part in Vaccination Campaigns in Africa, India and Pakistan where I have visited and lived 2015-18.
Many people are surprised that as I’m older woman that I am not just sitting at home but engaging with the world as an End Polio Advocate.
Fellow Rotarians have been most supportive but my family wish that I would stay home especially now that my health is not so good and currently I am living in Australia with minimal travel plans. One reason is that as a Rotarian I have to meet my own expenses and this is increasingly difficult in spite of great Rotary Hospitality around the world.
As a child I was paralysed with polio at age 4 years and later on experience the late effects of polio called post polio syndrome, this compromises your mobility and leads to pain.
Many people globally are involved with the End Polio effort producing vaccines , delivering them and monitoring the disease plus encouraging people to bring their children for immunisations.
We often face apathy as polio is 99 percent gone people do not realise that NOW is the time to finish the job and not allow a resurgence. I believe that Pakistan is very serious about eradication but as I have not visited Nigeria or Afghanistan I am unqualified to comment.
It's made up of more than 33,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas. The members of these autonomous clubs are called Rotarians, and they form a global network of 1.2 million business and professional leaders, all volunteering their time and talents to serve their communities and the world.
Polio is a virus and passed to unvaccinated children and those suffering from malnutrition through faeces and the virus hides in dirty water and sewerage. Polio is carried in the gut but people do not realise they are carriers and effects mainly children under 5.
Currently there are 18 cases so far this year of paralysis due to the virus but 30 years ago before Rotary started their End Polio Campaign there were 230 thousand cases a year.
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