I have the privilege of working on behalf of HIV/AIDS Orphans living in rural Uganda as an employee of the Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project. Every day I witness gratitude that is beyond comprehension by sweet faces who believe in the hope that education will change their life…and it does. Even just one additional year of school can increase a person’s lifetime earnings by 10%, dramatically decrease a young girl’s likelihood of contracting HIV, and make a child less likely to be targeted for violence or early marriage.
My favorite story is about a young woman named Abia, she was left as caretaker to her two younger siblings at the age of 13 after her parents both died within 3 months of each other. Abia says her tears were dried when she was accepted into Nyaka’s primary school. She says that the school became her family and gave her love. Abia was able to complete her education and recently became a nursery class primary teacher for Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project. Her story has come full circle.
The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) makes school a reality. The GPE is the only organization of its kind dedicated exclusively to education in the world’s lowest-income and most fragile countries. The overwhelming share of investment in education for vulnerable children comes from governments in lower-income countries themselves. Donor financing helps bridge critical remaining gaps. Since 2002, 75 million more children are attending primary school thanks to the GPE.
I was selected to participate in RESULTS’ REAL Change Organizing and Advocacy Fellowship to learn how to work with the media, our communities, and policymakers to create change and bring an end to poverty and fight for access to education. Following my first trip to Washington D.C. to start my fellowship and my first meeting with my elected officials in July 2017, I could not be prouder to have been able to meet with Michigan’s 8th District House Representative Mike Bishop face-to-face to ask for his support of the GPE. My first success occurred on November 14 when Rep. Bishop became the first Republican in Michigan to co-sponsor H.Res 466, a resolution that supports the GPE. By supporting the GPE Resolution, Rep. Bishop has affirmed the leadership and commitment of the U.S. to improving access to quality education for the poorest and most marginalized children and youth worldwide; supports the mission and goals of the GPE to contribute to the achievement of equitable, quality education and learning; recognizes that U.S. investments in bilateral basic education are complemented by GPE’s education systems approach; and encourages continued commitment and investments by the U.S. to ensure children and youth are attending school and learning throughout the world.
RESULTS volunteers have had over 300 lobby meetings in support of GPE and published 239 media piece in 49 states. We have raised our voice in support of access to education. I urge the administration to hear our voices and support GPE at the GPE replenishment on February 2nd.