This feature originally appeared in the March issue of InStyle. For more features like this, subscribe to the magazine now.
Archie Panjabi will never forget the first time she walked to school in India. She was 10 and her family had relocated from London to Mumbai. In the streets, children crawled to get around, their bodies ravaged by polio. “I was in this crisp uniform, my lunchbox filled with goodies,” recalls the Emmy Award-winning actress. “And there were kids with barely any clothes on, begging for food. I didn’t know at the time what they were suffering from, but it affected me. I remember thinking, When I’m older I’m going to do something.”
She has kept her word. In 2011 Panjabi signed on as Rotary International ambassador, joining the End Polio Now campaign spearheaded by the Evanston, Illinois-based service group. The ambitious project, started in 1985, is now nearly complete: Ninety-nine percent of the world is polio-free, thanks in part to an easy-to-administer two-drop vaccine that costs less than a dollar (it only costs 60 cents!). “This would be the second human disease wiped off the planet, after smallpox,” Panjabi says. “No child should suffer from diseases that are completely preventable. Read more of what Panjabi told us about fighting polio in the Q&A below.