By Jim Pinder and Steve Vodhanel
For Jim Pinder, Assistant Professor for the School of Pharmacy, success is spelled numerically – 3,313! That is how many children were administered the polio vaccination during the 5th West Africa Project Fair and Polio Immunization Program in Cotonou, Benin, West Africa. Sponsored by Rotary International, Pinder joined in with hands-on participation to assist with the world-wide effort to eradicate polio.
The group of 47 individuals (38 were Rotarians) from across North America vaccinated 3,313 children against polio in rural villages. Pinder had the opportunity to personally vaccinate 20 children, using the oral polio vaccine. The group also spent two days with local Rotary Clubs exploring potential collaborations to fund projects ranging from water and sanitation to education and healthcare. Approximately 240 projects were presented valued at $2.5 million.
Rotary is well-connected politically in Benin. The group visited the personal residences of the American and Indian Ambassadors. They also toured the slave trade route and a Voodoo Temple. The primary religions in Benin are Voodoo, Muslim, and Christianity. It is not uncommon for individuals to follow variations of all three religions.
“This was a great opportunity to help in the big push to eliminate polio in Africa. The partnership between Rotary International and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provides the best chance yet to eradicate a disease that has crippled and killed so many children,” states Pinder.
The above video shows Jim Pinder in a rural village of Benin, West Africa, vaccinating a child against polio.