November 7-- The President of the Vidalia Rotary Club is back from Togo, West Africa where she and other Rotarians dispensed vaccine to protect young children from polio.
Rotary International has been waging a worldwide war against the disease for years and Sandra Kate Ellington says there's still work to be done.
"We still have polio in the far reaches of India as well as West Africa. In Togo, the country I visited, polio was definitely present.
"A team of us from the United States that included 38 Rotarians organized by a Rotary Club from California travelled to Togo where we met with Togonese Rotarians. They organized the project for us to go out into a village and vaccinate children against polio," she said.
She reports the people in the villages live day to day in conditions we can hardly imagine.
"Education is a challenge. Sanitation is a challenge. The Togonese Rotarians run education programs about sanitation and how to improve bathroom facilities because a lot of times that is what actually spreads disease in their area," she said.
The Rotary group spent a day helping build a foundation for a new school and also contributed money for school uniforms which are required to attend school.
"The Rotarians on the trip raised funds to help pay for uniforms for children who were not able to participate because their families could not afford to pay for the uniforms," Ellington said.
She describes the people she met as happy just to be alive each new day, something she says is much different from expectations in our culture.
Accompanying her on the trip was her husband, Georgia Court of Appeals Judge John Ellington of Soperton, whom she quotes as saying, "We have an American dream. We want to get married, have children, have a job, have a house, that's part of the American dream.
"When you meet these people and talk with them about how they live, they're just happy to be alive and that's a big difference. They don't have an education system to expose them so they can even have a dream."