February-March 2020 | Regulars

Love is in the Air

Love is in the Air

Rotary Great Britain and Ireland President Donna Wallbank explains why love is in the air all year round at Rotary, thanks to The Rotary Foundation.

February is known to be about love. Shops are filled with heart-shaped chocolates, balloons, fluffy gifts, television and magazine adverts telling you to show how much you love each other and even an intonation that now is the time to propose!

However, my proposal is not about platinum-set glittery stones. It’s a proposal set around The Rotary Foundation, our own and only charity, alongside our top humanitarian service project globally – polio eradication.

It should be what glitters for us and the thing we truly cherish, love, give to and be proud to be part of. So, instead of giving chocolates, my love and I will be giving funds to The Rotary Foundation for polio, to ensure children in the world know of the promise made, with love, by Rotary is kept, ensuring a child gets something which our community members enjoy by right.

Giving to our Foundation can be fun too, just like the ‘Get Moving to End Polio’ with the 1,240 Challenge! Why 1,240? Well, the border between the last two polio-endemic countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan, is ‘more than 1,240 miles’, so we have focused the figure around our new sponsored activity.

The idea is simple. Organise anything incorporating the number 1,240 whilst raising funds to eradicate polio. It’s too late for a Valentine’s event, but not too late to do something before May 3rd, the last day of Volunteer Expo where this Rotary year’s ‘Get Moving to End Polio’ campaign will finish.

It also means engagement with non-Rotarians, showing what Rotary does, giving opportunities to tell others what we do and, importantly, showcasing Rotarians in action.

You can demonstrate just how much you love Rotary by inviting others to enjoy it too.

Don’t forget to send your funds in to The Rotary Foundation UK before the year end (clearly marked for polio) so we do not lose out on the additional giving from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for this Rotary year. Every £1 you raise is worth £3.

All too often we hold onto the monies too long and it could mean we miss out!

My New Year’s resolution was to heighten the awareness of the need to immunise children at home and overseas.

When we saw how measles raised its head in 2019 because herd immunity has been lost through falling immunisations in the United Kingdom, it made me realise how easily any disease including polio, can become a threat to the children we love.

If we don’t step up and face the challenges 2019 presented to the polio programme and finish the job, it is estimated 200,000 children every single year all over the world will be impacted by polio within 10 years.

In October 2019, a new activity was trialled in Cardiff with a ‘health has no boundaries’ seminar focusing on pandemics of many types. This would be something I would recommend groups of Rotary clubs to consider. It was a school-based, one-day event where young people came together to discover more about pandemics.

Fourteen-year olds who would not normally mix did so in a fun way whilst we delivered a message of what Rotary does, discussed health, immunisations and infrastructures, and the elements of peace that are part of it all at home and internationally.

Rotarians Keith Moger (Cardiff Bay Rotary) and District Governor Nominee Ray Bevan, (Pontllanfraith Rotary) have been working on adjustments to the information packs with polio champion Jannine Birtwistle, since the event to enable an even better experience for schools.

Why not e-mail Jannine for more information about another way to deliver the Rotary messages at: pauljannine@icloud.com

So is love is in the air? Will you cherish our Rotary Foundation and be part of keeping that promise?

Because, with the help of our partners and with your help, we will eradicate polio and create many other new opportunities for our Rotary Foundation funds to benefit others.

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