December 1, 2013
Volunteering Locally to Fight Polio Globally
Ezra Teshome of the Rotary Club of Seattle is interviewed by his daughter Selome about giving back to his native Ethiopia through his work to end polio.
Ezra, you've become a leader in Rotary's effort to end polio. What can the average person do to give back and contribute to the polio eradication effort?
Ezra: The fight to end polio needs as much support as possible. Please visit endpolio.org and find out how to spread the message of polio eradication. Some simple actions everyone can take are outlined like signing a petition, using social media to let all of your friends know about the fight against polio, and calling your elected representatives and news media to bring light to this issue.
Who or what has inspired you to give back?
Ezra: Primarily, I was inspired by all of the people who reached out to me when I was a young, struggling student who was in a new country. I landed in Seattle with no family here and very little support, but over the years, I was fortunate to have many mentors, neighbors, teachers, and bosses who saw my potential and hard work and assisted me in reaching my goals. I never forget how simple acts can impact someone and help them for a lifetime.
In addition, my parents were my first role models. They gave their time to help out their family and community and always modeled how to love others and do the right thing. My siblings and I honor their memories by contributing donations each month and then choosing a worthy cause to give the proceeds. Recently, we supported purchasing braille writing tools for kids in Ethiopia.
How have you tried to teach your children how to give back? Were there certain things that you showed them or told them that seemed to resonate?
Ezra: I have always included my four children in activities, Rotary events, and volunteer opportunities —even when they were little. They have participated in polio vaccination trips and were able to witness how important it is to be involved in community service that changes lives. They know the value of hard work and dedication as well as how to share and have compassion for others. I also taught them that we have to be respectful to others, especially if we have been fortunate and blessed with a decent life. All of my children have completed a university education and continue to be involved with their community through volunteer work and giving back.
Selome, you mentioned that your dad’s work has inspired you to give back – was there a particular instance that inspired you?
Selome: Overall, I am so impressed by the sheer energy and optimism my dad has for the world. He is always ready for the next challenge and sets his goals extremely high. Because of his passion, he is able to engage others to help with his various projects around the world and here in our community. Witnessing the growth and impact of the Rotary trips to vaccinate children for polio and bring clean water to small villages in Ethiopia was particularly inspiring for me. It really drives home that one person or group can truly impact others.
This post has been edited from its original version. It first appeared on Impatient Optimists on November 7, 2013.
- Share your story with Rotary for a chance to be featured on endpolionow.org.
- Donate to the fight to end polio.
Ezra Teshome speaks with his daughter, Selome, about giving back to his native Ethiopia through his work with the Rotary Club in Seattle and inspiring his children to give back to their communities. Learn more about their interview experience on Impatient Optimists.
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