World landmarks fight polio

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What do the Egyptian Pyramid of Khafre, Buenos Aires’ Obelisk, and Chicago’s Wrigley Building have in common?

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What do the Egyptian Pyramid of Khafre, Buenos Aires’ Obelisk, and Chicago’s Wrigley Building have in common? Each of these iconic landmarks will provide a dramatic backdrop for an equally dramatic message: “End Polio Now.”

These three words – representing the Rotary’s pledge to rid the world of this crippling childhood disease – will be projected onto each structure during the week surrounding February 23, the humanitarian service organization’s 105th anniversary.

The End Polio Now illumination of the pyramid is particularly symbolic, because Egypt’s history spans humanity’s struggle with the disease. Ancient Egyptian artwork carried the earliest known depictions of people disabled by polio, and in 2006, Egypt was declared polio-free, leaving only four polio-endemic countries: Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan.

In addition to the landmark light displays, Rotary clubs worldwide have planned a variety of polio eradication awareness and fundraising activities surrounding February 23.

In the United Kingdom, beginning February 23, Rotary members will solicit donations in exchange for a spot of purple dye on each donor’s pinkie finger.

In South Carolina, US, the week of February 21 has been declared Rotary Polio Awareness Week across the entire state. Great progress has been made, and the incidence of polio infection has plunged from about 350,000 cases in 1988 to fewer than 2,000 in 2009. More than two billion children have been immunized in 122 countries, preventing five million cases of paralysis and 250,000 pediatric deaths. Rotarians from Egypt and Europe, alongside representatives of WHO,UNICEF, and Egypt’s Ministry of Health, meet on Tuesday, February 23 at Mina House Oberoi Hotel, Giza, with Dr. Zahi Hawass, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, who will be the main speaker in this historical event. Guests will be ushered in to the venue with laser beams projected on the Pyramids.

Most recent finds
King Khafre (2576-2551 BC) ruled as a 4th Dynasty pharaoh. Recently, his tomb workmen’s remains were found; their tombs belong to the late 4th and 5th Dynasties (2649-2374 BC). The tomb site can be considered one of the most important discoveries of the 20th and the 21st centuries, as they shed more light on the early period of the 4th Dynasty. They belie rumors that the pyramids were constructed through slavery.

These tombs were built beside the king’s pyramid, indicating these people were not by any means slaves. If they were slaves, they would not have been able to build their tombs beside their king’s, said Hawass. The most important tomb is the one belonging to Idu. It is rectangular in structure with a mud brick outside casing covered with plaster. It has several burial shafts cased with white limestone, as well as niches in front of each shaft.

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Editor in chief is Linda Hohnholz.