Why I advocate for the Global Fund
For me, advocacy is very personal. This is about my family. I don’t have to psych myself up for it – it’s a part of who I am.
This spring I published my first letter to the editor. I have organized fellow advocates to write letters to our representatives around World AIDS Day. I have met face-to-face with my representative and both my senators on Capitol Hill.
Each time, I have asked for support for an innovative health partnership, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The initiative has already helped save 32 million lives by fighting deadly infectious diseases. I want my representatives to be champions for this cause.
Why all this effort? Advocacy with RESULTS resonates with me because of my family’s story. It doesn’t really feel like work to me. It’s just what I believe in.
I was born and raised in Zimbabwe. My home country has one of the highest rates of HIV in the world, and the virus has deeply affected my family. Seven of my aunts and uncles contracted HIV. Two of them died before Zimbabwe got access to antiretroviral therapy treatment.
Had we gotten access to the treatment there earlier, I’m pretty certain the two uncles that passed away would have still been alive today. My other relatives’ survival has been largely due to antiretroviral therapy becoming available through the Global Fund, as well as PEPFAR.
My cousin was born with the disease, and she’s in her twenties now. She’s still alive, and has an amazing life ahead of her because she has access to the therapy.
I’ve absolutely no doubt that the United States’ leadership on the Global Fund has a huge, meaningful impact to lives of everyday people like myself, and my family. The numbers are clear – congressional support for HIV/AIDS treatment is helping keep some of my family members alive right now.
Infectious diseases are a cause and consequence of poverty. And poverty is a human rights issue. Being an advocate with RESULTS is a way to fight for all human beings and their human rights. The structure that RESULTS provides makes it easy for all of us to engage at the highest and most efficient level.
There are many people who will never be affected by HIV/AIDS in the way that my family has been affected by it. And yet those advocates are still taking the time out to press policymakers on these issues. That moves me. Meeting my congressman is really the least I could do.
In 2019, Bukekile has met face-to-face with her member of Congress not once or twice, but six times (and counting!). Read more about her remarkable advocacy in part II of this series.