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.
- Join Archie Panjabi at Rotary’s Livestream Event, World Polio Day: Making History.
- Embed the Livestream video player on your website or Facebook page.
- Download a World Polio Day toolkit for sample social media posts and graphics.
- Add a World Polio Day: Making History cover photo to your Facebook page.
- Read blog posts from polio survivors