Archive for June, 2010

President of Chad delays departure to sign football in Chad

June 12, 2010

President Idris Deby delayed the departure of his foreign tour to sign so that Chad would not be left out of the historic journey that would Kick Polio Out of Africa via the symbolism of the ball. What a magnanimous gesture!

A delegation of Rotarians and Technical partners had waited patiently at the N’Djamena Airport on Wednesday, June 9, together with KPOA coordinator NPPC Chair Ali Hissene (the most worried of the lot), for the arrival of the Magic ball. Ali Hissene’s brief – to get the President to fully commit himself to all activities related to the signing of the ball and the eradication of Polio in Chad – was a challenge! The ball finally arrived and was rushed to the Presidential Palace.

Presidential senior staff, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Health, Rotarians, WHO, UNICEF and UNFPA heads present were all amazed at the short speech given by President Idris Deby, in which he reiterated his commitment to engage in the war against Polio. (The President  has committed 4 Billion CFA Francs (8 million $) towards polio eradication in Chad.)

President Idris Deby declared that he and his country would ensure that Polio is kicked out, and that he would personally spearhead every NID in Chad.  The ball, displayed majestically in the room, was signed by the President in an emotion-filled ceremony and shown on National and International Television that evening.

While thanking Rotary International and the Rotary Foundation for all the efforts and commitment towards eradicating this dreaded virus, The President expressed hope that Rotary would help until the very end, as it had promised to do. This was of extreme importance to the members of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, as Chad was now showing signs of picking up where Nigeria left off, as an exporter of the virus.

The President of the Rotary Club – Moussa Mouhammet – recognized President Idris Deby as a Paul Harris Fellow, thanking him for his positive acts in favour of the Children, and his decisive instructions to all the actors in the State concerning his preoccupation regarding Polio. The Paul Harris Fellow recognition was pinned on by Past District Governor Athanase Poulopolos, who also attended the ceremony along with his fellow Rotarians. In accepting President Deby declared that he was dedicating the recognition to all the victims of Polio in his Country, stating that no child should ever suffer from this crippling disease.

He then invited the group to take a “family photo”  before rushing off to the airport. The Rotary delegation also left shortly afterwards to give the ball to DHL for onward delivery to Egypt.

Chad marks the end of the journey of the ball through the 22 (now 23) polio-affected countries. The remakable journey of this ball has captured the attention of Rotarians around the world symbolising Rotary’s global commitment to eradicate polio. More importantly, the campaign has united countries in Africa to coninue its fight to eradicate this deadly disease.

The Grand Finale is on Saturday, June 12, in Bibliotheca Alexandria.


updated events calendar…

June 11, 2010

The ball has now traveled through 23 African countries. It has been a wonderful, successful journey so far and we are getting ready for the grand finale.

Please find the updated events calendar here.

Big boost as Bill Gates signs ball in Abuja

June 8, 2010

Bill Gates gave the Kick Polio Out of Africa campaign a big boost on June 7 when he signed the ball that is travellling through 22 – now 23,  polio-affected countries in Africa to raise awareness of polio eradication efforts. Delighted to watch Bill Gates sign is Busuyi Onabolu – the National PolioPlus Committee Chair for Nigeria.

Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has reportedly commended Nigeria for making significant gains in the fight against polio and called on the country’s leaders to finish the job. He pointed to Nigeria’s record-low number of polio cases in 2010 and noted that support from political, traditional and religious leaders have been a key factor.  

It is remarkable that Polio cases in Nigeria have dropped 99% from 2009 to 2010, according to Nigeria’s National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA). Only three cases of the disease were reported in the country through June 1 of this year, compared with 288 reported during the same period in 2009. NPHCDA also reports a steady increase in the number of children under age five who have received the oral polio vaccine.  However, there are still too many children who haven’t received the minimum number of doses to ensure they are protected against the virus.   

“All Nigerians should be proud of Nigeria’s recent progress against polio,” said Gates. “Thanks to committed political, traditional, and religious leaders, dedicated health workers, and loving parents who want to protect their children, Nigeria is on a path toward eliminating polio.” 

This is certainly something to smile about. Photographed below is Dr Mohammad Pate, Chief Executive Officer of the NPHCDA, together with Bill Gates and an obviously delighted DHL courier Remi, who managed to get the ball delivered just in time for the press briefing and signing. (Busuyi Onabolu is in the background.)

In Kano State on 6 June Bill Gates met with Executive Governor Malam Ibrahim Shekarau; His Royal Highness, Ado Bayero, Emir of Kano; traditional leaders; and Local Government Area chairmen to discuss progress and remaining obstacles to polio immunization in high-risk areas. He also visited Dala LGA in Kano to observe first-hand children being immunized during the current polio campaign.     

A copy of the press release of June 7 relating to the visit of Bill Gates has been posted on this blog under press, for information.

Next Stop: N’Diamena, Chad – the last polio-affected country to receive the ball.

TV Telethon nets 24 million francs CFA in Niger

June 7, 2010


The Head of State of Niger (above) signed the KPOA football on Saturday, June 5 at 10 a.m. in the presence of the Ministry of Public Health and the Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture. The ball was then presented to Rotarians.

A TV Telethon that lasted past midnight, netted 24 million francs (CFA). The national telephone company donated 10 lines for the purpose of the telethon to allow givers to express their contribution directly by telephone. What an incredible way to raise funds for The Rotary Foundation to EndPolioNow and to Kick Polio Out of Africa. Well done!


Above: Gaston Kaba – NPPC Chair for Niger – presents the football to the Interim Minister of Public  Health – Niger.

These children are ready and waiting to Kick Polio Out of Niger!

Next stop: Special signing on June  7 in Abuja, Nigeria …

Rotaractors rally support to sign virtual ball …

June 7, 2010


Keen to lend support  were enthusiastic Rotaractors who set up a booth this weekend at City Stars Grand Mall Centre, Nasr City in Cairo to promote the campaign and to encourage members of the community to SIGN NOW. The booth, manned by Morad Ezzat and May Wassfy, prepared this eye catching KPOA poster. “They are giving a good hand in every respect” writes Ayoub Ayoub – KPOA coordinator in the build up to the grand finale event in Alexandria on June 12. Below – enthusiastic Rotaractors from the Rotaract Club of Heliopolis in action.

Many of the guests at the signing ceremony of Mega Project 2010/11 (District 2450) held on June 4 in Cairo added their names to the Kick Polio Out of Africa SIGN NOW campaign of the virtual ball. Guests included the District Governor – Nijad Alatassi, Minister of Legal and Parliamentary Affairs – Dr Mufid Shehab, PDG Monir Sabet, Dr Raafat Radwan-President of Literacy Org. and many Rotarians and guests from Cairo and Alexandria. Some of the guests who appreciated the noble goals of KPOA wanted to join Rotary!


Jason Blackman of DHL who has been coordinating the movement of the ball this past weekend, advises that “the pilot is carrying the ball for us into Lagos. My Lagos team is on stand by to hand carry to Abuja to meet the 16:0 deadline today for the next signing”. Great teamwork – thanks DHL!

World Cup Countdown …

June 5, 2010

There are 7 days to go to the start of the 2010 world cup. South Africa is the first country on the continent of Africa to host this mega sporting event. We are ready. Flags are flying and excitement is reaching fever pitch.

Keen to support the KPOA project (driven by one of its members – June Webber) PR Director Matt Mercer of Waterfront Rotary set up a computer for members to sign the ball at their breakfast meeting on Friday at the Metropolitan Golf Course, situated right next to the new Cape Town Soccer Stadium. There was a lot of fun as more than 25 members signed the ball in complete awe of the power of technology! Below: Past President Spiro Mitchell concentrates as he signs in.

Other Rotary clubs are encouraged to so the same. Alternatively take the signing out into the community by setting up computers and screens in shopping malls in a show of solidarity for this unique campaign to Kick Polio Out of Africa and the world.  

After traveling for almost four months across the continent, the football is close to reaching it final destination in Alexandria, Egypt.  The grand campaign finale will be held at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, on June 12, under the auspices of First Lady Suzanne Mubarak.  African Cup of the Nation champions will kick the ball – symbolically kicking polio out the continent and into the Mediterranean Sea.  Also attending the event will be film star and polio goodwill ambassador Hany Salama, polio-infected children, government officials, and dignitaries.

The SA consulate in Chicago will feature KPOA at a public viewing event on Daley Plaza  on June 11 of a short video on the Kick Polio Out of Africa campaign.

The ball will be presented to RI President John Kenny at the Rotary International Convention in Montreal on Monday, June 21 2010, where it will receive a rousing welcome.

Mothers support latest NIDs in Mali…

June 3, 2010

The last day of the NIDs on May 31 in Mali, saw the arrival of the ball in Bamako safely in the hands of Dr Boubacar Niambele, Chairman of the Mali NPPC. Mothers had brought their children in droves to be vaccinated in the three-day window allocated for NIDs in Mali, where the commitment for a polio-free Mali and Africa, is intense. In Mali one case has been reported (compared with 1 for the same period in 2009). Onset of paralysis of the most recent case: 06 Mar 2010.

The NIDs  (National Immunisation Days) had been well signposted along the way ….

Rotarians, under the auspices of El Hadj Konaté, Chairman of the Polio Eradication Committee of Mali, together attended  the opening of the three day high-powered Conference on Nutritional Health being held in Bamako. This was at the invitation of the Minister of Health Mr Ousmane Touré, well-known for his public acknowledgement and appreciation of Rotary International’s polio eradication efforts. Seen in the photograph above are L-R President El Hadj Konatém, Ashok Mirchandani and NPPCF Chair (Mali) – Boubacar Niambele.

Ashok Mirchandani writes: “All the players in the health sector and those involved in the well-being of children were present. This provided an ideal  backdrop for the presentation of the ball to the protagonists concerned under the watchful and delighted eye of the TV & media”.

The signing ceremony took place at the reception following the Conference attended by éminente personalities from different horizons and all walks of life, in a happy, convivial atmosphere.

The Minister of Health Ousmane Touré (left), like others present, were all well aware that the President of the Country – Ahmadou Toumani Touré (aka ATT) – had given his undertaking to the Vice Chair of the ARPPC – Ashok Mirchandani – to sign the the ball at the 2010 African NID flagoff on 6th March. This was not possible as President ATT was  in Nice (as were most African Heads of State) for the France Africa  Summit, where advocacy for Polio was expected to be tabled. 

“ATT has always taken the lead in advocating the eradication of Polio to his peers, in particular when he was President of the National Committee for piloting NIDs against Polio, before becoming President” writes Ashok. The Current President, El Hadj Konaté, who too had awaited the arrival of the ball along with thousands of Malians since March, also took an active part and signed the ball along with the NPPC Chair. The Representative of the District Governor Saibou Maiga signed the autograph booklet.

An incident well worth noting writes Ashok is that “during my speech at the NID flagoff in March, I took a break from the prepared speech and spoke about the ball and its historic journey and origins of KPOA which ATT had pursued vigorously himself for 15 years. When I asked him if he would sign the ball when it came to Mali, the President gave a spotaneous affirmative gesture. The roar from the football loving Malian crowd was deafening.  At the end of the ceremony I was mobbed by children, all asking for the ball. If I had one there, an instant football match would have commenced in that playground of this township on the outskirts of Bamako!”

On the conclusion of the event DHL took possession of the ball which is now  en route to Niger …

French documentary about Congolese polio survivors

June 3, 2010

Please click below to watch an exerpt of the amazing story of Staff Benda Bilili – the Congolese band formed by polio survivors. We covered their efforts before here.

Award-winning Hungarian filmmaker Ádám Csillag  and cinematographer Mark Gyori filmed Staff Benda Bilili in mid-April at the kick off concert of their European tour at the jazz club Moods in Zurich. A polio survivor himself, Csillag is currently producing a 26-minute TV documentary “Kicking polio out of Africa” .