Rotarians help children in Ethiopia

Jubie brothers help distribute polio drops in Africa

ETHIOPIA — For Marysville Rotarians Harv and Larry Jubie it was their first time in Africa, but the Jubie brothers will be the first to say that their Oct. 17-31 trip did more than broaden their cultural horizons.

The Jubies joined more than 50 other Rotarians from Washington, Montana, Utah, New Hampshire, Hawaii and Canada in traveling to Ethiopia for the country’s National Immunization Day against polio, which actually took several days of work on the Rotarians’ part.

The American Rotarians arrived in the Ethiopian capitol city of Addis Ababa on the evening of Oct. 18, and then partnered with Ethiopian Rotarians and split up into seven groups Oct. 19. Before the Jubies began distributing polio drops they helped deliver wheelchairs to rehabilitation centers to aid those already affected by polio, and then stopped by an orphanage whose children had lost their parents to AIDS.

Oct. 20 saw the Jubies’ group of Rotarians pitching in to drill a well that would supply water to both a school and a village, while their itinerary for Oct. 21 included visits to a school for autistic children and to the U.S. embassy. Each day’s schedule included several hours of driving, which turned into a full day on the road to Dire Dawa Oct. 22.

“We gave polio drops to children 5 years and younger,” Larry Jubie said of their two days of polio drop distribution, Oct. 23-24, which included a stop 20 miles from the border of Somalia. “They’d already had a round of polio drops three years ago, so we were being a bit redundant, but we wanted to make sure we covered all the children.”

“We went door-to-door, to places that had dirt floors and no running water or electricity,” Harv Jubie said. “When families saw us, they’d line right up. They were all in favor of it.”

Harv Jubie was struck by the size of the Ethiopian countryside and found that its many dirt roads reminded him of Guatemala, while Larry Jubie observed that those in the rural areas of the country lived almost entirely by manual labor and had to walk long distances simply to get clean water.

Like their fellow Rotarians, the Jubies paid their own way, to the tune of roughly $5,000 apiece, to be part of a group that distributed a total of 1,000 polio drops, with each Rotarian distributing roughly 30 drops, and with representatives from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation present to supervise the distribution since their group has donated $355 million in challenge grants to Rotary International’s polio eradication efforts. The Jubies believe that the presence of American Rotarians on the ground helps illustrate the international support for this cause.

“That’s also why we met with the president of Ethiopia,” Harv Jubie said of their Oct. 26 visit to the presidential palace, following another full-day drive Oct. 25. “We wanted to make him aware of what we were doing and to get his support.”

“It’s important to thank their country for all that they’ve done and for allowing us to come in and do what we do,” Larry Jubie said.

Rotary International is committed to raising $200 million to meet the challenge of the Gates Foundation’s grants by June 30, 2012.

For more information on the Ethiopian National Immunization Day, log onto

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