I met Ivan in late 2016, and two years later, we were married! He is truly the best experience in a partner - a dream come true for me.
During our courtship, Ivan mentioned wanting to pursue further studies, and having witnessed some of his work, I was quick to encourage him to apply. Immediately after our wedding, he started on his GRE preparations and then sat for the test and got a good score. He then applied to some of the best schools of Public Health for a doctorate in public health (DrPH). He was admitted to four of the six schools he had applied to. What a privilege! Here we were - wondering which school to take. I am using "we" to accommodate my cheer-leading role :-)
Having interviewed with the various schools, Ivan opted for Harvard. It definitely wasn't an easy decision to make. We had to make a conclusive decision in April 2019. It is also then that we found out that Harvard had graciously given a 50% scholarship towards tuition and we needed to raise the rest of the monies. Because Ivan is my husband, I obviously have a bias towards how much good I can share about him; and there is a lot of good. The truth is though that he has done some pretty exceptional work, including designing a community health insurance program for rural communities, pioneering a local laboratory franchise network in Uganda, and developing economic strengthening initiatives for the rural poor.
During one of his field visits last year, one of the beneficiaries of the community health insurance program was particularly moved by the initiative. She had had a miscarriage and because she had joined the community health insurance program, she was able to access medical assistance immediately. Let me paraphrase, “After the doctor had attended to me, I was admitted for the night. The next morning, I was surprised to find that my bill was only UGX 9,000 ($2.40). For all the care and tests conducted, as well as for the medication, that was a very small amount. I am glad that I joined the health insurance program, and I am ready to renew [my annual premium] for myself and my children for the next year”. And do you know how much the annual premium is for a family of four? Ugx 80,000 (about $21.39). It is testimonies such as these that I believe give Ivan more encouragement to continue working to improve the livelihoods of the rural, under-served communities.
Ivan’s first foray into public health was as an intern. From there, he worked hard and ignited a passion for all things health, and especially to see strong leaders developed, and who will put the needs of the people first, in the health sector. He works hard - I should know, and I am very inspired by his determination to excel, serve, and achieve. In applying for the DrPH, he is determined to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to lead back here in Uganda and on the continent, and a desire to positively influence health policy in third world countries. Ivan believes that we all have within us what it takes to lead our communities to better health, and this is evidenced by his daily commitment to his work. I watch him head off early to work every day and eagerly wait for him to return home late every evening with more work to do at home – and yet still manage to be a wonderful husband.
In order for Ivan to make it to Harvard, we need to raise $43,000 and send this as proof to Harvard in order for the school to release documentation that he needs to process his student visa. This is quite an amount to raise in a short period of time. We are also in the process of selling some small assets to raise some of the money but this is likely to take longer and will most likely contribute towards his second year. Ivan's first class is on July 8th, 2019 and the money needs to be on the account by 30th April 2019. Can this amount be raised in this short time? I honestly don't know. What I do know is that no amount is too small. I am therefore appealing to you as friends and family to contribute whatever you can to help me to send my husband back to school.
As I write, Ivan is working from home, thanks to a wonderful cold, otherwise, he would be at work, putting in some hours to raise a little something for what will cover our meals abroad.
Please help me to send Ivan to Harvard. It would be a dream come true for us.
Thank you for reading the short version of this story - in a way, your holding this story is a contribution. And thank you, in advance, for your generous contribution!
P.s. I have included some images from communities that his work touched, and something from our small wedding.