It’s only been about 2 months since my last post about PIH | Engage, but our progress on the spring campaign seems exponential. Early in 2014, teams across the country sat down at community “retreats” to lay out a gameplan for the spring, setting ambitious yet realistic goals and devising the timeline, roles, and sets of work necessary to make their ideas a reality. We’re approaching a crucial moment for PIH | Engage: in just a few months, the yearlong campaign will wrap up and we’ll head into a summer of reflection, re-grouping, and rebuilding for next year. The question for these retreats was: how will communities meaningfully demonstrate the significant power they’ve built through months of organizing and hard work?
The power that we’ve built:
PIH | Engage teams have built up to this moment through many small campaign successes. Just in terms of people power, the movement has grown to more than 430 members! A personal fundraising push around the holidays resulted in more than $26,000 in December alone, and events across the country have brought our total beyond $52,000 to date.
Our winter advocacy push focused on generating media around the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria replenishment conference. The Global Fund is an international financing institution that has brought unprecedented resources to fight these epidemics, and through submitting letters to the editor to our local newspapers, PIH | Engage called on the U.S. to pledge $5 billion to the Global Fund over the next three years. At least 8 letters were published! In addition to these campaign victories, communities hosted many awareness-raising events, panels, film screenings, and social gatherings.
Where we’re headed:
Now, the question is how PIH | Engage can display this power in a final campaign push. First, teams aim to host culminating fundraising events that rally entire communities around the vision of Partners In Health. Not only can these events raise substantial funds, they can engage a broad audience about the work of PIH and PIH | Engage. One idea that many communities have taken on: “Strides for Solidarity” walkathons where people walk in solidarity with community health workers, who often travel many miles over rough terrain to reach vulnerable patients. Community health workers are the cornerstone of the health care systems PIH works to build – we employ more than 8,000 CHWs across our sites. By the end of this year’s campaign, I’m confident that PIH | Engage will host more than 10 Strides for Solidarity walkathons.
Communities are also working to push forward an exciting advocacy campaign. As I write this, Congress is debating funding levels for next year’s federal budget, including key foreign aid programs that could bring millions to global health interventions. Congress gives less than 1% of the budget to humanitarian aid – we need to tell them to do better. PIH | Engage will engage with our legislators through in-person meetings, letters, phone calls, and emails and urge them to make global health a priority in next year’s budget. Specifically, we’re asking them to increase funding levels to $800 million for global maternal and child health, and $200 million for nutrition programs.
By the end of June, PIH | Engage organizers will have held dozens of meetings with Congressmen to discuss these issues. And, as you’re reading this, I hope you’ll join us! We’ve created an easy tool that helps you write a letter to your Senators and Representative in Congress in just 2 minutes:
Sign this call to action now and share with your friends and family!
It’s taken a lot of work to get here, and I can already think of dozens of ways I’d like to change the campaign, our training, and our recruitment for next year. But thinking back to our launch in September, it’s incredible to have seen individual Community Coordinators grow into passionate, dedicated teams ready to host walkathons and meet with Congress! I can’t wait to see what we accomplish by the end of this campaign.
By Sheena Wood
Sheena works as the Community Organizing Assistant at Partners In Health. A recent graduate from Brown University, she enjoys reading about community organizing and global health, traveling, and eating dark chocolate.