Blog Action Day 2012: Eradicating Polio everywhere, forever

“Whatever!” Somewhere between childhood and adulthood it becomes embarrassing to say “I want to save the world” – and pretty uncool to admit even to wanting to change it for the better.
 
Good schools delay the onset of cynicism. A really good school might be able to inoculate children against cynicism for life. The International School Brunei – “ISB” – has teamed up with Standard Chartered Bank (“Here for Good”), to devise a scheme called “Polio Points” which is going to change the world, one ampoule of vaccine at a time.
 
Launched this month by the Crown Princess of Brunei, “Polio Points” is a way to harness the uncynical enthusiasm of ISB students for doing good. As a parent of the Hogwarts generation, I haven’t had to explain the concept of earning points to my boys. But there really does seem to be something magical about the way good deeds, intelligent risk taking, acts of kindness or bravery – in classroom, playground or rainforest – can be transmuted into polio vaccine for children in Pakistan.
 
One magic ingredient is “corporate social responsibility” – something Bruneian society admires, and which the British banks operating here, HSBC and Standard Chartered, practise with verve.  Another part of the potion is ISB’s determination to ensure that a small school in Borneo thinks globally. This year, ISB’s “Borneo Global Issues Conference” heard from the Lord Mayor of the City of London on the subject of responsible capitalism; and from a charismatic young Australian, Hugh Evans, on how we could “Make Hunger History”; and how we were “this close” to eradicating Polio everywhere – forever.
 
That struck a chord with students and staff. In the months since the conference they came up with the concept, made their pitch to Standard Chartered, and are now busy amassing “Polio Points”. An NGO, the Global Poverty Project, is finding them a charity in Pakistan to administer the vaccines; and Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Brunei has generously offered to sponsor a visit to his country for a delegation from the school, to see their “Polio Points” in action.
 
At the end of the ceremony which launched the scheme, ISB’s youngest “Polio Points Ambassador” stood up and said: “I want to change the world”. She can.
 
For more information on “Polio Points”, visit www.poliopoints.org/

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