Back in 2013, Susanne Rea had an idea. A simple idea to bring people together over a meal, to raise money for Rotary’s efforts to eradicate polio.
Six years later, as part of World Immunisation Week, which starts today, Susanne has announced that The World’s Greatest Meal to Help End Polio has raised a staggering US$10 million (approximately £7.7 million).
Speaking on a special live broadcast from her home in Australia, Susanne said:
“It started way back in 2013, and that’s when I got an idea. On a visit to England I met up with my friend and Co-Founder Mukesh Malhotra and cooked up this idea. You would have a meal, you would raise money for polio and have some fun.
“The idea quickly took off and in no time I found myself in demand to go and speak at conventions, conferences and Rotary clubs around the world.”
We have raised a staggering amount of 10 million dollars all going towards The Rotary Foundation polio fund.”
Since that first fun gathering, events have taken place in 80 countries across the world, with the millions of dollars raised going directly to The Rotary Foundation – Rotary’s own charity.
The funds are contributing towards protecting millions of children around the world with a potentially life-saving immunisation against polio, a disease which can cause paralysis and even death in children under the age of 5.
“We are just a small part of the End Polio Now campaign,” explained Susanne. “We are bringing polio ‘this close’ to being finished. We have lots more to do.
“During my travels I’ve visited 47 countries. I’ve lived in Uganda. I’ve lived in Pakistan. I’ve really got down and seen what the problems are in these countries where we must, must, must continue to immunise!
“I’m a polio survivor. We can’t forgot those who in later life have greater challenges than really are fair… If every last child doesn’t receive a vaccine, they’re going to have a lifetime of difficulty and pain.
“We have raised a staggering amount of 10 million dollars all going towards The Rotary Foundation polio fund. We’re not finished yet. We cannot step back until the world has been declared polio free.”
We must, must, must continue to immunise.”
World Immunisation Week, celebrated in the last week of April, aims to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease.
Immunisations save millions of lives every year, yet there are still nearly 20 million unvaccinated or under-vaccinated children in the world today, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Since Rotary pioneered the End Polio Now campaign over 30 years ago, more than 2.5 billion children have been given an immunisation to protect them against the disease.
To find out more about World’s Greatest Meal, or to host your own event, visit their website.