“If you came for the hockey game, you need to go across the street. If you came for Shakespeare, you need to come another night.” But we were at the right place, at the right time. Last night, I joined some 250 diplomats, hill staffers, administration officials and other guests at Harman Hall to hear Bill & Melinda Gates present The Living Proof Project.
The Gates went to Washington to urge lawmakers to continue spending money on global health initiatives despite the economic crisis and the soaring deficit. Describing themselves as “Impatient Optimists” they shared with us success stories of people whose lives have been changed thanks to U.S. investments in global health initiatives. They drew on history to illustrate that diseases – smallpox for example – can be eradicated and spoke of the terrific progress made in the fight against malaria. A picture speaks a thousand words and the presentation was interspersed with beautiful footage of “living proofs:” a father in Nicaragua whose child was saved by having access to the Rotavirus vaccine or an orphan in South Africa whose life was prolonged when she got access to AIDS medicine.
While they touted the success stories, they also highlighted how far we still need to go and how slow progress can be at time. Millions of lives have been saved, improved and empowered because of the investments in global health made by the U.S. and its partners around the world. But there are millions more “living proofs” yet to come and the pace of progress is often slower than it should be…
We were treated to an acapela performance by Vocal Motion 6, a PEPFAR funded Namibian group that educates it audience about HIV through music. It also ended with an appeal by Bill & Melinda gates to share these Living Proofs with others. So I am taking a quick break from D.C. food and culture to ask you to view this compelling presentation in its entirety one the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation website.