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RI President Sakuji Tanaka (center) joined Rotary leaders in placing wreaths in Hiroshima Memorial Park during the third Rotary Global Peace Forum in Japan. Participants adopted a declaration, “Peace Begins With You.”
Few Americans think about polio these days; for many it has gone the way of the steam locomotive and black-and-white TV. But this crippling viral disease still threatens children in parts of Africa and Asia. Twenty-five years ago my organization, Rotary International, joined with the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to try to bring an end to it once and for all. We’re almost there: Last year saw only 223 new cases worldwide. That’s a drop of more than 99% from the 350,000 cases reported annually in the 1980s.
Now that we’re this close, perhaps the lessons we’ve learned can inspire other large-scale managerial endeavors. I’ll offer three in broad strokes: (1) Don’t be intimidated by sheer magnitude—break the job down. (2) Make sure the goal matches your mission, and make it personal for your people. (3) Recognize that you can’t go it alone.
In retrospect, polio eradication might seem an obvious task to take on. But any initiative that ambitious is extremely daunting. As a goal, however, it did have three things going for it. There was a precedent—if only one: The eradication of smallpox, declared complete in 1979, established that a human disease could be conquered. A proven approach existed: Vaccines had been developed by Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin in the 1950s, and Sabin’s oral vaccine was particularly well suited to mass immunization campaigns. And progress toward eradication could be reliably measured, literally week by week.....
In a ceremony heavy with symbolism, RI President Sakuji Tanaka joined other Rotary and community leaders 17 May in laying a wreath in Hiroshima Memorial Park, dedicated to the victims of the atomic bomb dropped on the city during World War II.
The subject of peace has been at the heart of Tanaka's year as Rotary's president. A member of the Rotary Club of Yashio, Japan, Tanaka selected Peace Through Service as RI's theme for his year, and he organized three global peace forums to motivate Rotarians and others, particularly youth, to work for peace in their daily lives.
The wreath-laying event took place during the third of these forums, in Hiroshima, Japan, 17-18 May. Tanaka also visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and signed the guest book, which contains messages of peace from many past and present world leaders.
More than 2,700 people attended the forum, including Rotarians, community leaders, and students and alumni of Rotary's Peace Centers program -- a peace studies initiative that provides future leaders with the skills needed to resolve conflicts and promote peace. The governor of Hiroshima Prefecture, Hidehiko Yuzaki, and the mayor of Hiroshima, Kazumi Matsui, also attended.
Previous forums were held in Berlin, Germany, and Honolulu, Hawaii, USA. Tanaka selected all three sites because they were affected by the events of World War II and now represent the healing power of sustainable peace between nations.
"Every Rotary project, every act of service, is an act of love and kindness," Tanaka said in his closing address. "When we serve in the right ways, and for the right reasons, we bring people together, in peace and in harmony. How could it be otherwise?"
Posted by Sunil K Zachariah on May 21, 2013 at 6:49am
Posted by Marilyn Axler on May 16, 2013 at 5:11pm
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