It was only about a year ago that I first got involved in polio. Back then (that is mean to sound like a long time ago because it feels like it) I knew polio was something some old people had suffered and that Rotary had something to do with it (the eradication of polio not the suffering!).
It is a significant day for me to pause and reflect on World Polio Day 2012 as it has largely changed my life and my skill set like I could never have imagined.
Sitting here now on the bus from Islamabad to Lahore I would have never expected:
- that I would have managed hosting a famous cricketing legend from India and polio survivor – Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, and done an incredible media community engagement campaign around the celebration of India going 12 months without a case of polio (also living out all of boyhood dreams of hanging out with legendary cricketers, note: beers with Dennis Lillee and Rod Marsh)
- to have schooled myself up to answer a variety of polio related questions and done the background reading, understanding and memorisation to become a strong advocate for the global eradication of polio
- talking polio on a 1000-mile cycling trip for Live Below the Line and had the extra inspiration to do it on less than $1.50/day for all my food and drink knowing that children today are still being crippled and killed by a disease that had been eradicated 6 years before I was born in 1978
- taken on the role of campaigns manager for Canada, spending the next 6 months travelling every 1-10 days across Canada giving 64 presentations to over 3000 people on global polio eradication and encouraging the political will that is needed to see it’s end
- in collaboration with a team of Rotarians in Montreal to hold a 125-person dinner event with former Canadian Prime Minister, Paul Martin, and a range of incredible speakers and guests raising $18,000 for polio eradication and priceless awareness and inspiration to continue to fight to it gone, forever
- represented those thousands of Canadians and more when I met with Heads of States, Minister and decision makers on the funding for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative at a high level polio meeting at United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 27
- been a working part of the Global Citizen Festival – a 50,000-person advocacy concert held in Central Park, New York and watched through livestreaming by a further 15 million to put the spotlight on polio with friend, colleague and incredible polio advocate – Ramesh Ferris and see people engaged and inspired to do something about the The End of Polio
- and finally now, being in Pakistan, one of three remaining endemic countries with polio and hear to listen, observe, learn, teach, share and advocate with the outside the heroic efforts of those working on the ground for the eradication of polio in Pakistan
None this happens by itself so I am indebted to others to make it all happen and feel lucky to learn and share the experiences, knowledge, perspectives and inspiration with those I get to rub shoulders with.
The 24th of October has become a significant date in my life as I have dedicated a year to this cause joining others who have done it for their whole lives.
Polio has been the source of a lot of passion, hard work, friendships, collaborations, joy and resolve for me in the past 12 months and I know it will not finish until polio is finished.
All of this is a huge privilege and not without a huge amount of thanks to others who all play their part in seeing a polio-free world for everyone, everywhere and forever!