Actress and UNICEF goodwill ambassador Mia Farrow said she understands the devastation of polio and the importance of eradicating the virus. Farrow survived polio as a child and adopted a son from India who had contracted the disease.

"Polio is a terrible, terrible disease. We are right to be pushing for the end of it," Farrow said during the third plenary session of the 2009 RI Convention on 23 June. "We are almost there, we just have to push a little further."

She focused the second half of her address on promoting the health and safety of children -- a message that dovetails with RI President Dong Kurn Lee's emphasis on reducing child mortality -- and the need to protect the people of Darfur, Sudan.

She recounted how in 2004 a woman in Darfur gave her a protective amulet to wear around her neck and asked her to tell the world about what was happening there. The woman said, "Please go out and tell the world. Tell them we will all be slaughtered." Farrow said meeting that woman changed her life. "That's the whole of what I do now. I try to fulfill my promise."

Toward that promise, Farrow showed Rotarians slide after slide of victims of the atrocities in Darfur -- men who had had their eyes cut out by marauders; a woman who had been shot through the back, which killed the child she was carrying; an infant dying of malnutrition; and entire villages burned to the ground.

"After six years, what message have we sent to Darfur?" Farrow asked. "Only that they are dispensable. If we look back and realize we failed the people of Darfur, we will not only have failed them, but we will have failed ourselves."

In a press conference after the plenary session, Farrow said it will take the will of the people to move governments to act. "There is undeniably genocide that has occurred and will occur," she said. "The defining moment for all of us is what are we going to do about it?"

Farrow talked about the good work of Rotarians and how they are an amazing group of people who are capable of doing whatever they set their mind to accomplishing.

She urged Rotarians not to give up fighting against polio. "Yes, it costs money," she said. "But we won't have to do that once we have eradicated polio . Then all that money can go to something else.

"I do think Rotarians are unusual in that they are so galvanized to action," she said. "All of them are committed to helping other people, and they are able to galvanize other people to help.

"I love Rotary," she added. "It is the best thing that has ever happened."