Traditional business careers are great, but I think if morepeople followed their passions the way Azure Antoinette has, we would lead happier andmore vibrant lives.
Alice Saisha was raised in the Luapula Province of Zambia with 10 brothers and sisters. She always had big dreams for when she grew up. However, she almost didn't achieve them. "I nearly had to drop out of school because of poverty," she says. She also almost became a child bride to a much older man.
"If CAMFED did not step in, my story would have been different."
CAMFED is a pan-African movement revolutionizing and supporting girls' education — which is exactly what it did for Saisha. Not only did she finish school with their support, she also got her undergraduate degree in Sociology and her Master's degree in Development Studies. She's currently looking to get her Ph.D.
And she didn't stop there. "All of the knowledge I obtained was applied right in the community where I grew up," she explains. Saisha is a trainer and facilitator in leadership and enterprise, financial education and psychosocial counseling — and an activist, philanthropist and advocate of women's rights.
"We speak out for the voiceless, create leaders along the way, and amplify the importance of children's welfare in school and at home."
Today, Saisha is a CAMFED ambassador, using her education to benefit her community and make sure that other girls, just like her, find a way out of poverty through education. Her work creates a bridge between the young women, children, youths and all the existing opportunities, information, and aid they can access. She provides mentorship and financial aid to those in need. "I come up with innovative ways to reach out to other young women or girls through media, calls, and one-on-one or group meetings," she explains. "To share knowledge, use my experience and give room to lend a listening ear whenever need be."
"I am very passionate about seeing women progress in all areas of life."
Without a doubt, she says her life story helps drive her work, not only because it is the motivation behind what she does, but also because it helps her relate to the girls she supports. Saisha is currently supporting 11 orphans and vulnerable children by directly funding their education. She is also fostering two of the children. "[They] come from similar backgrounds," she says. "They were at the verge of dropping out due to early marriage." She met them during her volunteer work in district communities and noticed a reflection of her own experiences. "I instantly connected with them and I believed they had brighter futures."
"Seeing them transform is priceless, and hearing them dream big is so touching. Their achievements speak to it all."
Courtesy of CAMFED/Eliza Powell
"I want girls to be heard. It does not matter where they are in the world, what race they were born into or the type of background they came from," Saisha says. "Girls should be supported to escape unsafe environments. They need to always have a safe space which allows them to grow, and to nurture the great visions they possess."
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The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.
Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.
Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.
Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash
The international nonprofit
CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.
"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."
Nunn believes a comprehensive vaccination program needs to be sufficiently funded to not only acquire enough vaccines to inoculate people who may be missed otherwise, but also to ensure transportation, delivery, and administration of the vaccines. For every $1 in supply, $5 is required for delivery costs, she says.
"2021 finds us at a crossroads. One road leads from pandemic to endemic – and what some may see as 'acceptable apathy' where the lives of the vulnerable in low-income countries are deemed less valuable... "The other road is built on understanding the true cost of vaccines and the human cost of failing to deliver vaccines to the most vulnerable, and a joint commitment by all who walk it together to equity, equality, and human dignity. Our destination is a place where each of us is safe because all of us are safe," says Nunn.
The best interests of everyone on the planet are served by an investment in comprehensive global vaccination. For 75 years, CARE has been doing lifesaving work in the global community—and while the fight against Covid is far from over, the organization invites everyone to commemorate just how far we've come.
On Tuesday, May 11, CARE will host An Evening With CARE with Whoopi Goldberg and attended by former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter, as well as Angela Merkel, Iman, Jewel, Michelle Williams, Katherine McPhee-Foster, Betty Who and others, to mark the 75th anniversary of this amazing organization and take stock of the work that lies ahead. Please RSVP now for this can't-miss opportunity.