Polio Purple Pinkie Story

31 Oct 2017

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Written to help the campaign to End Polio supported by Rotary International, their President Gary C K Huang, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

The Purple Pinkie Story

Jofli was about to set out on the journey of a lifetime.  He placed his ticket safely inside his backpack…destination India.

“Of all the things to see, and places to go, the Taj Mahal is at the top of my list,” thought Jofli as he pondered on the exciting adventures that lie ahead, but the first part of his adventure was getting there.  He had been on lots of aeroplanes, but he’d never managed to reach his goal of sitting in the cockpit, maybe this was his lucky day.

As he boarded the plane his excitement grew.

“I wonder who will be sat next to me?  I always meet someone interesting,” he said to himself as he struggled down the isle with his backpack, scanning the numbers for his seat.  “Here we are 14A.”  He always asked for a window seat, he liked to watch the ground getting further and further away before it eventually disappeared behind the clouds.

Jofli took his logbook out of his backpack, settled into his seat, and fastened his seatbelt tightly ready for take off.  He smiled to everyone as they shuffled like penguins down the isle, and wondered who was going to stop and take the empty seat next to him.

“I think this one is mine,” said the smartly dressed gentleman as he placed his bag in the overhead locker, and squeezed himself into his seat.

“My name is Bill,” he said, as he held out his hand for Jofli to shake.

“Hi, my name is Jofli, I’m going to India to see the Taj Mahal,” replied Jofli full of excitement. 

“I’m going to India on business, so no sightseeing for me,” said Bill as he clipped himself into his seatbelt.

“What do you do?” asked Jofli, pleased that his fellow traveller was a chatty kind of a man.

“I work in computers,” said Bill, “but I’m also on this trip to help my friend who’s a Rotarian.”

“A Rotarian?” pondered Jofli, “What’s a Rotarian?  Is it someone who’s round?  My tummy’s round! Am I a Rotarian?” he thought.

Bill noticed the puzzled look on Jofli’s face.

“My friend is a member of Rotary International, we are working together to fight the Polio virus.  We have a goal to wipe it out in every country all over the world, and we’re almost there,” said Bill with pride.

“That’s wonderful,” said Jofli, “I have a goal too, I want to see inside a cockpit.”

“Well this could be your lucky day,” said Bill with a knowing smile. “My Rotarian friend just happens to be the pilot!”

“Wow,” shouted Jofli, “do you think he’ll let me fly the plane?”

“Probably not,” he replied, “but he might let you sit in his seat.  Let me see what I can do,” said Bill as he called over the stewardess and whispered in her ear.


Jofli couldn’t believe his luck as he sat in the cockpit next to the Captain, gazing out at miles and miles of clear blue sky in front of him.  The Captain looked very smart with gold braid on his shoulders, and ‘Captain Huang’ printed in gold letters on his name badge. 

Jofli chatted away asking about all the controls in front of him, when he noticed something very odd.  The captain’s little finger was purple.  Jofli couldn’t control his curiosity.

“Why have you got a purple finger?” he asked sheepishly, as he climbed down off the seat for a closer look, and clumsily knocked the tannoy button to the ‘ON’ position as he brushed passed.

“It’s Purple Pinkie Week,” replied the Captain.  “When children have their Polio vaccination in India, they have purple die painted on their little finger.  We are collecting £1 donations which will buy 2 doses of the vaccine, and those who donate can have purple die put on their little finger too, to show their support.

“I’ll donate £1,” said Jofli, “And I have a purple pen in my backpack so I can colour my little finger as well,” he added as he held up his paw to show where it would go.

Without knowing that all the passengers could hear every word they were saying, Captain Huang continued to tell Jofli about the wonderful work that Rotary International did around the world.  The time passed all too quickly, and when it was time to show Jofli back to his seat, the Captain opened the cockpit door to the most wonderful surprise.

Every passenger was sat with their purple pinkie held high in the air.  Bill had taken Jofli’s backpack and the purple pen, and passed it around every person on the aeroplane as they listened to Jofli and the Captain over the tannoy.  They had all put £1 inside the backpack and painted a purple spot on their finger to show their support in wiping out Polio for good.  Everyone on the aircraft clapped and cheered as Bill handed over the backpack full of money to Captain Huang.

“This has been the best flight ever,” said Jofli as he settled back into his seat with a huge smile on his face, “It was great that we collected so much money, and all because you helped me see inside the cockpit.”

Jofli paused.  “I don’t suppose you’re going anywhere near the Taj Mahal?” asked Jofli.

Bill just smiled as he pulled down his eye mask, and lay back wondering what other adventures Jofli might have in store!

The End

© Suzi O’Neill

For further information or to donate your time or money, please go to www.endpolio.org, or contact your local Rotary Club at www.rotary.org