Why I became an ambassador for polio eradication

Archie Panjabi addresses the 2013 Rotary International Convention.

Archie Panjabi addresses the 2013 Rotary International Convention.

By Archie Panjabi, Emmy-winning actor and celebrity ambassador in Rotary’s “This Close” public awareness campaign

When I was 10 years old, I had an opportunity to stay in my parents’ homeland, India, for a period of two years. Coming from England, it was a huge cultural shock. But it was also a great experience for me to learn about my heritage.

One of the things that affected me deeply was my daily walk to school –  I would witness children crawling on the streets. Some of them were on planks of wood with wheels and just rolling themselves along. When the traffic would stop they’d knock on the car doors, begging for money. 

I would ask about it, but people would avoid talking about it or give me an explanation that wouldn’t make sense. It disturbed me for years. When I was asked to become a Rotary ambassador for polio I researched it and it was only then I realized it was the crippling disease that these children were suffering from.

In April of this year, I went to New Delhi and I actually got to meet not only the people who were carrying out this incredible work, but also mothers and parents who were bringing their children for the oral vaccine. Brothers and sisters were bringing their little siblings in.

It was quite an incredible experience. No matter how much you read about and learn about it, being there is different. One witnesses how much effort actually goes into getting the vaccine to the children and you see how quick and simple it is to just give them the drops.

I got the opportunity to place the drops myself in quite a few babies’ mouths. I was so moved … knowing that this child was now safe from this devastating disease forever. Just connecting with the mothers was also quite an experience. There were long lines of mothers waiting in the heat to come in and get the vaccine.

This is a journey that I’m on with Rotary. And I can’t wait to see it to the end.

4 thoughts on “Why I became an ambassador for polio eradication

  1. Archie…sorry ,Ms Archie Panjabi you are so human and “this ” today is very important .
    Sophie from Greece .


  2. Pingback: Remembering Jonas Salk on the anniversary of his birthday | Rotary Voices

  3. Congratulation Ms Archie Panjabi for becoming an ambassador for polio eradication. Women are fond of service; they are more devoted to humanitarian works. A day will come very shortly when world will 100% Polio free. Sk Abdul Hadi, RC Khulna North, RID 3281


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