After a life-changing trip to East and Central Africa, Barbara Bush wanted to find a way to improve global health. While traveling with her parents working on AIDS relief, she witnessed the disparity between healthcare in the US and around the world. Determined to make a difference, she found like-minded peers who were also dedicated to global health issues. In 2009, driven by the belief that health is a human right, five other twenty-somethings and Barbara founded Global Health Corps, a leadership development organization with a mission of building the next generation of leaders who will transform global health systems. Today this international community of fellows and alumni is nearly 1000 strong and operates by the belief that “great ideas don’t change the world, great leaders do.”
What sparked your passion for making a difference in global health?
I was moved to action by witnessing the roadblocks so many people face in obtaining the healthcare they need to lead healthy, fulfilling lives. In 2003, as a 21-year-old architecture major, I was lucky enough to join my parents for the launch of PEPFAR—the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS relief—in five countries in East and Central Africa. I saw crowds of people who had traveled long distances by foot to wait in line for life-saving HIV treatment that had been available in the U.S. for years. I vividly remember standing with my mother next to a tiny precious girl and her mother. The little girl was lying down dressed in her fanciest white and lavender dress. I didn’t know the details of that child’s life, only that she was too sick to stand, and though she looked like she was three, she was probably seven. Her mother dressed her up and brought her to the launch, though she probably didn’t live much longer. People’s lives, like that little girl’s, were limited and cut short, simply because of factors beyond our control – like where and when we are born.