Advocacy Day 2013: Global Health Advocates “Tell it from the Heart”
July 2, 2013
by Kathy Erb
A little rain and waves of tourists didn’t deter Joy Mukaire of the Christian Health Association of South Sudan from her goal of sharing a very important message on Capitol Hill in June 2013. “The message I wanted to put across was that women’s health is at stake. Faith-based organizations (FBO) are working with their local governments to save these lives, but it is not enough. More lives could be saved if the U.S. government allocated more resources to leverage the work of FBOs,” said Mukaire. “FBOs have an important role of adding community outreach systems and approaches that are crucial in places where pregnancy and birthing practices are deeply rooted and influenced by the community.”
Mukaire was in Washington, DC that day for Christian Connections for International Health’s (CCIH) Annual Advocacy Day. The group met with Ken Flanz of the office of Senator Michael Crapo of Idaho, Cade Clurman of the office of Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois, and Bekah DeMordaunt of the office of Congressman Raul Labrador of Idaho. “Advocacy is important to me because many legislators have little appreciation of the issues at hand unless they are contacted and made aware,” she said. “They need to hear voices from the field; data is not enough to convince someone of the value of global health programs. Face-to-face interaction is important. Three of the staff members we met that day asked me to provide specifics in terms of ‘What is the benefit from U.S. government funds?’ and I was able to articulate it in a second. They had some awareness, but they needed stories to make the case stronger.”
Mukaire has learned that when meeting with Congressional offices, it is valuable to have people in the group who work at the implementation level. “Legislators need to hear from the field to get the stories that put a human face to the case for global health,” explained Mukaire. “Know your story, identify the issue well, and tell it from your heart.”
Pictured above is Dick Stellway of Community Vision International; Viateur Kalinda of the Remera Rukoma Presbyterian Hospital in Rwanda; Cade Clurman of the Office of Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois; Joy Mukaire of the Christian Health Association of South Sudan; and Dr. Anne Peterson of the Ponce School of Medicine & Health Sciences in Puerto Rico.