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July entry by Keith


A new Rotary Year – new challenges


I am sure those of you who read the report in the newspapers last month that five polio workers had been murdered by the Taliban in Afghanistan will be as appalled as I was, and will join Rotarians and our partners in the battle against this terrible crippling disease in sending our condolences to the relatives and families of those who gave their lives to help the children in Afghanistan.      For that was their crime – daring to try and stop polio.   Sadly this is another example of the many challenges faced by the front-line workers.  Raising money is, relatively, easy and Bill Gates is still doubling whatever Rotarians raise, but working for hour after hour in arid mountainous regions, in unbelievable heat, dust, and dirt, having already walked many miles to access these areas is a real labour of love.  And then people are murdered because of it.  Luckily there are still more volunteers who are prepared to give, if need be, their all to save the children of the world.   The battle must be won.  .My story of the Taliban man who held his polio-crippled son up to his fellow Taliban members saying “This is the will of Allah” just goes to confirm the ignorance and prejudice that we still have to face - even after 35 years.  Just two drops of vaccine, valued in pence only, would have stopped that child’s suffering.
I had planned on starting this month’s epistle saying that I was on a real high and very, very excited as, half way through this calendar year, and in the middle of the high season for polio transmission, there have still only been TWO cases of wild polio in the world – one in Afghanistan and one in Pakistan.  There has not been a single case of wild polio now for six months.  We have never been so low in case numbers and we are all, cautiously, very, very excited at this headline.  What is even better is the news that all the testing carried out in the laboratories that have been set up by Rotary and our partners all over the world have shown no positive environmental samples containing polio at all.  That is incredible news.   We really are on the verge of getting rid of polio – Taliban permitting.  Hopefully the sacrifice of the workers will not have been in vain.  And don’t forget, it is Rotary’s laboratories and testing facilities that were, and still are, so successful in fighting Ebola and other viral outbreaks.  It is not just a battle to eradicate polio, but a war to help those in need, and to create a better world for its inhabitants
And so we start a new Rotary year with new teams all over the world
The last Rotary year has been very difficult for everyone because of the restrictions – which have meant that we could not meet our friends, we could not meet or put on events for the public, and any communication, training or learning has to be done on-line.  President Elizabeth has had a superb year under very difficult circumstances trying to control us all with camera and microphone. Zoom now means something completely new for all of us.  But Elizabeth has had a great year, the club is thriving, and we all thank her for her leadership.   Our new Club President is Celia Canter, a young lady who works for the NHS and we all wish her well for her year in charge.  It looks like being yet another great year for us.   We hope to restart face to face meetings in the next few weeks, and we look forward to our First Table Top Sale on Saturday, 11th. September.   Hope to see you then.
It is all change at International level as well and the World President for 2021-2022 is a gentleman from Calcutta - Shekhar Mehta,  and he has given us the challenging theme for the year of - Serve to Change Lives. I can think of no better epitaph, and I quote it now in memory of those who, so tragically gave their lives to change the lives of the children of Afghanistan.
Keith

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