Polio’s Impact–And Fighting Back
This is another in a series of reports from a Rotary expedition to Ethiopia to End Polio Now.
For most people who get polio, the battle is not waged at the doorstep of the morgue, rather it is fought over whether a child will walk or crawl, beg or work, die single or raise a family.
Today, we visited the Cheshire Home Rehabilitation Centre here in Addis Ababa. Here, “clients” are provided with life changing surgeries and other treatments to allow them to walk.
The polio victims at Cheshire are now teenagers. The disease has been eradicated here for years. They come in crawling and they leave walking, usually requiring about six months. During that time they have surgery, sometimes more than one, and then receive extensive physical therapy and are provided with braces and crutches to allow them the dignity of walking.
The Centre does other work as well. On site, they manufacture wheel chairs, not only for their own clients, but for others as well. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is one of their largest customers; the Church purchases the wheel chairs to donate to people who, for whatever physical disability, are living life on the ground.
The wheel chair shop was, during our visit today, building a custom tricycle for a carpenter with one leg and no good arms. He uses his leg like the rest of us use our arms.
The highlight of the day for the visiting Rotarians, was to see the new hydrotherapy facility that is 90 percent complete. Denny Wilford from Port Orchard, Washington, has led an eight-year campaign to raise the money for the facility.
Cheshire official expresses thanks to Denny in the nearly completed hydrotherapy pool.
Today, Denny choked back emotion as he saw the nearly complete facility. He announced over lunch that the new facility would be named for a recently deceased Rotarian, Past District Governor Nahusenay Araya, who had devoted his life to serving the people of Ethiopia.
Later today, we visited a local library that was built by Rotary Clubs in Washington State about 15 years ago. The clubs continue to provide support for the library.
Dave Weaver and Ezra Teshome, both of whom were involved in the library project from its outset. Note the faded sign behind them.
Finally, we visited Rotary Village, an actual village outside of Addis that has now been consumed by the sprawling city. Still there, but now within the reaches of the city, the village is home to families in great need. The original occupants were all refugees.
The village homes all include running water and electricity. They were built at a cost of $2,000 each. Much of the financing came from Rotary International.
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