Before the election my daughter’s World History teacher asked her class to share what issues they would present the President with if they had the chance. My daughter eagerly shared her passion for eradicating Polio and said that, if given the chance she would urge the President to help us with the support and final financial push needed to end the disease. He teacher questioned her issue coming back with, “Polio? Really? Aren’t we done with that? I think there are far more pressing issues.” Needless to say she was deflated, not to mention frustrated because she knows better.
And so does Sikha Patra. Sikha and her friends are so vigilant about the issue of Polio in their own village that on scheduled health days, they spend their free time wielding their handmade megaphones through the streets of their village and walking from house to house to remind each family to get their children their Polio vaccines. In fact, in a soon-coming and highly-anticipated documentary film The Revolutionary Optimists (of which I had the honor of screening at The Shot@Life Champion Summit) you’ll see Sikha and her friends rally around the cause and help mothers by taking their babies in to get thier Polio drops because the mothers couldn’t. Did I mention that Sikha was 13 at the time? Watching children advocating oh behalf of other children like this might be one of the most inspirational things I have ever seen.
Sikha is a member of the group Daredevils (how awesome is that for a name?); a group that helps collect health data and rallies the community around important health issues like vaccines. The passionate and committed group divides the block, makes cartoon posters, and does puppet shows to get kids and families to come to the health days. Sikha also helps survey the neighborhoods and track how many kids have been vaccinated. She believes in the United Nations’ Children’s Rights Charter right to live and that is why she is so passionate about bringing people to polio days.
I know, right? Crazy awesome stuff.
If this is the first time you have heard the story of Sikha and the Daredevils, I promise you, it won’t be the last. That being said, I am bursting at the seams to share this clip with you from the documentary where she and other equally inspirational children from Kolkata (Calcutta) India are brought to light. It’s my privilege to share this with you. I promise, you will be totally inspired!
I can only hope to be as brave and committed as Sikha Pertra in my life. She is such an inspiration.
Thanks to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, and people like Sikha, the number of new cases of polio has dropped 99 percent. We are *this close* but, we still have work to do to eradicate Polio. Please use your voice, like Sikha does and help the fight. Imagine the impact we could have if we would all act like Daredevils?
The impact of vaccines on the lives of children around the world is incredible. Now, you can help sustain the impact by sending an email to your member of congress. Welcome your members to the 113th Congress and ask them to make sure that global health and vaccines are a priority in the new Congress. Take action and make an impact!
This story comes from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and is part of Shot@Life’s ’28 Days of Impact’ Campaign. A follow up to Blogust to raise awareness for global vaccines and the work being done by Shot@Life and their partners to help give children around the world a shot at a healthy life. Each day in February, you can read another impactful story on global childhood vaccines. Tomorrow, don’t miss Maggie Carter’s post! Go to www.shotatlife.org/impact to learn more.
Photos courtesy of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.