Free Portland News

January 2021 By Keith

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A Very Happy New Year from the Rotary Club

So here we go into the New Year when we hope Covid will finally be beaten.

From the Rotary Club point of view that cannot come soon enough – yes, it has given us the chance to help out in different ways e.g. support for The Food Bank and ICA, and, with the help of Kids Out we did manage to supply boxes of toys to children in our local refuges for battered Mums and wives but it will be nice to meet our fellow Rotarians face-to-face again and get back to all our other projects as well.                                                                                              

Yes, we did miss escorting Santa around the Island – the first time for many, many years.  

Yes we did miss helping out at the Children’s Christmas Party.                                            

Yes, we did miss out on being able to help Santa deliver presents on Christmas Day.             

Yes, the provision of clean water to our friends in the villages in Nepal stalled for a while.  

So Yes, 2020 is a year we would all rather forget.

However there have been, arguably, much more serious repercussions because of Covid and, having been involved in the fight against polio for 30 years, I can tell you that we now have problems which are, hopefully, only temporary.                                                           

Because of Covid, vaccinators have not been able to get to villages to find that last child with polio.  As I have said, as nausea to FPN readers, polio is only a plane-ride away and we stop vaccination at our peril.  Very sadly I have to tell you that I was right, and it gives me no pleasure in telling you so because, at the time of writing in Mid-December, we have had 138 cases of polio in the world last year - that means 138 small children who have been paralysed because we were unable to get to them because of Covid.  What is worse is that over 700 children have developed polio because of the virus used in the old oral vaccines. On the bright side though, we now have a brand new genetically-engineered vaccine, like some of the Covid ones, which is, at last getting through to the kids.  In fact this one looks so good that it has gone straight out into the field without any drug trials at all.  Great news, and what is even better is that, because of the genetic engineering, the new polio vaccine cannot cause polio.  In Chad alone they have just immunised 3.3 million children in one campaign, bringing the total immunised in Africa to over 40 million.  It is a tragedy for those who have been affected but the statistics now show that we have immunised over one Billion children against polio in the last decade alone.  We hope that 2021 show us that we are well on the road to success.

It has been fun talking to each other and holding meetings using Zoom – where would we have been without that programme?  But Rotary is about Fellowship and Friendship as well and I, and I know that others have missed that closer contact.

So, I wish all of you, on behalf of all the Portland Rotarians, a Peaceful, Covid and Polio-free 2021, and we look forward to meeting you all again at our Table Top Sales, whenever they start again, and at the other events run  by the Rotary Club of The Island and Royal Manor of Portland.

Stay well, and stay safe.    Keith