Just a few weeks ago we received wonderful news about the Eliminate Project. The World Health Organization’s Validation Survey confirmed that the Philippines had eliminated maternal neonatal tetanus. Thanks to the generosity of Kiwanis members around the world, UNICEF and its partners, 44 countries have now officially declared victory over the pain and suffering of MNT. While we have reached our fundraising goal, raising $110 million in cash and pledges since 2010, we have only actually received paid gifts in the amount of $77,556,351.00 as of December 31, 2017. That represents 70% of our fundraising goal. So, you can see that our job is not done yet.
Now, more than ever, we are determined to finish what we started. Mothers and babies in 15 countries depend on Kiwanis. They’re waiting for us to fulfill our pledges – so we can turn promises into funding; funding into vaccines; and vaccines into lives saved and futures protected. The end of this disease means the beginning of better health for so many of these families. For the two years prior to my becoming an International Trustee, I had the privilege and honor of serving as the Eliminate Project chairman in the district of Indiana, and it was a heartening experience for me to be a part of such a worthwhile effort to rid maternal neonatal tetanus from the earth.
To me, Eliminate defines what Kiwanis is all about. We are an association of men and women who enjoy each other’s company while working together for the common good. It is personally enriching to be a part of an organization that embraces such kindness towards those less fortunate in our world. We are all kindred spirits in this great organization we call Kiwanis. Together we are able to do so much more than we can apart. Together we are able to accomplish so many more things to champion justice, feed the hungry, clothe the poor, house the homeless and protect those who cannot protect themselves.
I think of the women and families in Madagascar, Laos, Iraq, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, and the Philippines who can now safely give birth and hold their newborns without the fear of tetanus. I am grateful for all that our clubs are doing to save women and babies from a tortious death. Our gifts are protecting the connection between women and babies and keeping families whole. Through our time, passion, perseverance, gifts and advocacy, we are doing so many good things.
“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”
– Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa
Days such as these are a time of reflection – an occasion to consider… our relationship with each other as human beings. And we’re reminded of our basic obligations: to recognize ourselves in each other; to treat one another with compassion; to reach out to the less fortunate among us; to do our part to help repair our world. As we head into the finishing of this indispensable project, I am thankful for every effort that Kiwanis has made to show its compassion for our children.
We have laid a new foundation in Kiwanis with this effort to eliminate maternal neonatal tetanus, and I, for one, am proud to call myself a Kiwanian.