Susanne Rea, project partner of The Rotary Club of Cairns Sunrise (D.9550), Australia, was in Bahrain and Apple Sharma caught up with this remarkable lady to talk about her quest to end polio.
The Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013–2018 was developed in response to a directive of the World Health Assembly with a long-term strategy to deliver a polio-free world by 2018.
English-born Australian Susanne Rea has been doing her utmost to bring awareness and raise funds for this notable cause. Having had polio herself at the age of four, this is one initiative that is very close to Susanne’s heart.
“I joined Rotary 21 years ago when my youngest child went off to university and I was looking to put something back into the community,” she says. “I felt a certain need to expand my vision and coincidentally I was invited by a person I’d met in Sydney to join the Rotary. My Rotary career has largely been in fundraising. There’s a lot of opportunity and meeting people all over the world is very fascinating.
“I was given the job of district polio chair, which means you have to raise funds and awareness from amongst the clubs in your district. I thought what do people like to do, they like to eat!”
This led to the birth of Susanne’s brain child – “The World’s Greatest Meal to Help End Polio”.
“We were required to raise USD1,500 per club. I was very keen on Facebook (FB) and so I decided to create an FB fundraiser and then, being a little bit ambitious, I decided to involve a past district governor I knew in England,”
“We developed a small group on FB and now there are 11,000 people in the group.”
Anyone can take part by donating a minimum of USD10. The procedure is very simple. Plan an event (a meal or dinner), fill out the “Before” form on the World’s Greatest Meal (WGM) website, have the event – enjoy, take pictures, raise funds and send them to The Rotary Foundation’s End Polio Now programme, and lastly, fill out the “After” form on the WGM website. Every event is reported on FB with full credit going to you or your club.
A child can be vaccinated against polio for life for as little as US60 cents. The donation goes even further – from 2013 to 2018, every US dollar the Rotary commits to polio eradication becomes three dollars, thanks to 2-to-1 match funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
There have been 1,061 events registered in 59 countries and more than 56,400 participants worldwide.
USD957,788.61 has been raised, a total of USD2,873,365.83 with match funds, which translates to enough money to buy more than 4,788,000 polio vaccinations!
Susanne travels to various parts of the world carrying a torch that was the project of the Rotary Club of Madras (Chennai), celebrating the fact that India became polio free.
With Susanne, the torch has travelled to Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Afghanistan to Dubai, Egypt and now Bahrain.
She has had 18 corrective surgeries to keep her moving and there’s no stopping her as she continues on her journey to raise awareness and funds for this worthy cause.
When she’s not travelling, she says: “I like going out to lunch with friends, talking a lot and having fun!” g
Visit www.wgmeal.com and the FB page Rotary: Wold’s Greatest Meal to Help End Polio for more information.