Our Members donned a little bit of purple at our meeting today to raise awareness of polio, in advance of World Polio Day on Saturday 24 October and the global initiative to eradicate polio. It's a cause Rotarians around the world support.
All sorts of purple "attire" were on display at the Zoom meeting: jumpers, cardigans, shirts, crocus pins, scarves, shawls, woolly mufflers, ties, cravates, waistcoats and bow ties! We even had one Rotarian wear a purple mask! There was plenty of enthusiasm to support the cause; one Rotarian took part despite having just had surgery to his face, another was keen to show us all her pretty pot of purple crocuses, while a third was so keen to be part of the "purplescape" that a purple jumper was borrowed from a spouse!
With a new Member joining us for her first meeting as part of the group, PP Richard Kemball-Cook took the chance to explain why purple was so significant: basically, as children aged under are immunised against polio - a potentially life-threatening or debilitating disease - each is given a little toy treat. To avoid children coming back on immunisation day, their "pinkies" (little fingers) are marked with long-lasting ink. Richard, who's taken part in these immunisation drives in India, recounted how one can see previous faded-purple marks as children have to be vaccinated at regular intervals. He told us that 5 million children in Delhi were immunised between 5 am and midday: 25,000 volunteers manning 5,000 locations! This is repeated several times a year in cities across India. Many members of the Club went out and joined the hundreds of local Rotarians manning the locations. He sadid "the sheer magnitude of the event made it one of the modern ‘Seven Wonders of the World’ and we, as Rotarians, are part of it!"
The Rotary movement internationally, in collaboration with the World Health Organization, the Gates Foundation and other partners, has since 1985 been engaged in a “war” to eliminate polio. (There was a pause due to Covid-19 but immunisation is being resumed). From 1,000 cases per day in over 100 countries around the world the disease has now been reduced to being in just two countries: Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Our regular readers will recall that our Members have been busy selling crocus corms to support this eradication initiative. These corms have been sold to many individuals, while several of our members have donated corms to local organisations or sites such as Canterbury Bowling Club and several village, parish or residential groups.
Member Bob Anderson sold one packet of corms to a lady who loved the polio story so much she has sent a pack to a brother in Glasgow, another bought a pack to remind herself of the time spent in Pakistan as a member of the Diplomatic Corps, and another has given a packet to a 90-year-old father who happens to be reorganising a flower bed at his home in Beccles (in Suffolk)!
On Saturday some of our Members will be planting corms at Westgate Gardens together with the Umbrella Centre and beside St Dunstan's Church (previously, we have planted crocuses along Rheims Way). The Church will be lit purple that evening as a joint effort in association with the Rotary Club of Canterbury Sunrise, so make sure you visit (following latest Covid-19 guidelines, of course) and take a "for a limited-time only" photo.
Every year Rotary clubs plant purple crocuses in the community; this year 2 million will be planted (around 22,000,000 to date in the UK).
Read more about purple4polio here.
Picture: Members don bits and pieces of purple to help raise awareness about Rotary's purple4polio campaign. Picture credit: Rotary Club of Canterbury.