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Dawson County Rotarian helps protect those in need from this deadly disease
Rotary polio 1
Sue Wells, the wife of Dawson County Rotarian Randy Wells, helps give one infant polio immunization drops during a clinic visit in Delhi, India. Photo submitted to DCN.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article misidentified the wife of Randy Wells, Sue Wells, as a Rotary Club member. Only Randy Wells is a Rotarian.

Whether in this community or overseas, all Rotarians hold to the motto “service above self.” 

One member from the Rotary Club of Dawson County and his wife recently took their commitment to serve abroad when presented with the opportunity to help people in medical need. 

This story continues below.

Just over one month ago, Rotarian Randy Wells and Sue Wells, his wife, traveled to India to help give polio immunizations.

Eradicating polio has become one of Rotary’s International’s top global initiatives over the past 35 years, according to the civic club’s “Ending Polio” page on its website. 

Polio, also known as poliomyelitis, is an infectious disease that can attack the nervous system and cause paralysis and potentially death in people affected, most commonly children under five years old. 

Polio spreads from person to person and often through contaminated water, Rotary’s website stated. 

Randy Wells is currently the service project chairman for Dawson County's Rotary chapter, which he has belonged to for 18 years. Wells has worked 32 years as a pilot for Delta Airlines, flying to Europe, South America and Africa. 

“I have seen the Rotary Logo in many countries around the world and have the opportunity to attend meetings in other countries,” Wells said. “As much as I have seen [in] many countries, my wife and I were not prepared for what we were going to experience on this trip to India.”

The couple was in India from Jan. 24 until Feb. 4, serving in the Delhi region until Jan. 31 and then in Kolkata until Feb. 2, Wells said. 

India’s Delhi region is in the country’s north and contains its capital, New Delhi. 

The trip was organized by Nancy Barbee. Barbee is a past district governor of Rotary District 7730 in North Carolina and serves as the District Global Grant and International Service chair. 

She also has a strong working relationship with the Rotary chapter in Mahanagar and the India-based Rotary E-Club of District 3012. 

Before helping administer the polio immunizations, Wells and his wife met multiple doctors involved with treating the disease.

During their first day helping, Wells said that they met with Dr. Nischal Pandey, the Rotary e-club’s president.

Pandey has assisted with various health-related Rotary service projects, such as the Gift of Life program he started in Rotary District 3010. That program provides free heart surgeries for economically weak children, Wells said. 

They also met Sanjay Parnar, the head of the Rotary Foundation and attended meetings for Rotary International’s South Asia office, the World Health Organization and UNICEF. 

During these meetings, they learned how the Indian government is using the Rotary Polio Program to help coordinate other necessary vaccinations for children. 

While still in the Delhi area, Wells also met orthopedic surgeon Dr. Matthew Varghese at St. Stephens Hospital, who Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates called one of the five “heroes saving the world,” Wells said.

Varghese has three decades of surgical experience correcting and rehabilitating people affected with polio. 

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Randy Wells, the Rotary Club of Dawson County’s service project chairman, helps administer polio drops. Photo submitted to DCN.

After that experience, they traveled to a local health clinic to help give polio drops to young children. 

“There are not enough adjectives to describe our feelings as we met families, watched the smiles and helped the young children of Delhi,” Wells said emphatically. 


They then flew to Kolkata in the country’s eastern side, and upon reaching the airport there, they were met by a group from the Rotary Club of Calcutta Mahanagar, including the chapter’s president, Manish Biyani.

Wells and his fellow Rotarians were shown the Motherhouse of the Missionaries of Charity, the Catholic order started by well-known nun and caretaker of those in need, Mother Teresa.

“Inspiring is not a strong enough word to describe her and her organization,” Wells added. 

The group then visited the Mayor’s Health Clinic, where the Calcutta Mahanagar chapter received a global grant for the purchase of 15 kidney dialysis machines, which will be used by patients free of charge. 

“We also headed to the Tagore Hospital to see another incredible project called ‘Healing Little Hearts,’” Wells said. “This program has provided over 2,500 free heart surgeries to children who are born with holes in their heart.”

After visiting that hospital, Wells was able to administer Polio drops with last year’s Rotary International President, Shekhar Mehta.

“The parents of these young children all know the importance of Polio immunizations for their young children,” Wells added. “Rotary’s continued support has kept India Polio free since 2012.”

He elaborated that his recent experience in India has motivated him to tell local club members about the importance of staying involved in the “End Polio” program

As my club contributes to the continued Eradication of Polio, I can now convey to my fellow club members how important it is to stay involved in the program, also adding that “Rotary International is truly doing a great thing.”

Likewise, Wells voiced his gratitude at being able to see how global grants can enable Rotary chapters around the world to help each other in a “powerful way” and build strong bonds to  work on tackling an issue unique to another country. 

“Being a Rotarian in India is quite an honor. They wear their Rotary pin with pride, and live the Rotary life,” Wells said. “I am honored to be a member of the Rotary Club of Dawson County and District 6910. Wear your Rotary pin with pride and be aware of what difference you are making in the world.”