The soul of civil society
Religion & Liberty Online

The soul of civil society

Bob Woodson of National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise fame taught me a lot about strategic partnerships. In the interest of getting something important done for needy people, it’s ok to invite others with good contributions to make to join you, despite disagreements with them on other issues. Good advice. And on the 50th anniversary of Dr. Jonas Salk’s vaccine and Dr. Albert Sabin’s oral polio vaccine, Rotary International demonstrates an impressive strategic partnership with the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, partnering with the World Health Organization, U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Rotary is the world’s first volunteer service organization, tapping 1.2 million members in 166 countries when it launched a flagship PolioPlus program in 1985 to achieve a polio free world for all children. Polio cases were cut 99% by 2004, but there are six polio endemic countries including Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Niger, Afghanistan and Egypt, and five countries where transmission has been re-established in the Sudan, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Chad and Burkina Faso. Multiple volunteers have travelled safely into war-torn Sudan and Cote d’Ivoire to vaccinate children.

Contributions have been received from 528 or the 529 Rotary Districts and from 153 countries. Twenty thousand clubs have made contributions and eight districts have raised more than $1 million each. Rotary contributions to the global project will exceed US$600 million. Rotary is to be commended for not looking at an overwhelming global issue and thinking “governments should fix this.”

Such is the admirable Soul of Civil Society.