30/30 Project Founder Julie Lewis

Read why longtime CfC supporter Julie Lewis is launching the 30/30 Project…

Dear Friends,

Thirty years ago, on March 14, 1984, I was infected with HIV after giving birth to my oldest daughter. I had no idea of my infection until six years later, in the summer of 1990, I was diagnosed HIV positive after having multiple health issues. At that time I was told I had about five years to live.

After my diagnosis I got involved in many AIDS related groups mainly focused on advocacy, education and prevention. One of the highlights for me was getting to know a group of about 20 people on a speaker’s bureau who were dealing with HIV/AIDS in their own lives. Unfortunately, many of those friends lost their battle with the disease and are no longer with us.

As my thirty year anniversary of living with HIV grew closer, my family wanted to celebrate the fact that I am indeed still alive and have miraculously been able to be here for my husband, my three children, and now my two grandchildren.  What a blessing! As my family began thinking of how to “celebrate” this milestone, my heart felt heavy with the memory of so many HIV+ friends who did not make it. I began to consider how to celebrate being a survivor, yet honor those who have passed and contribute something positive for those who are still struggling daily with this disease.

I have been volunteering for the past two and a half years for a wonderful non-profit called Construction for Change.  CfC provides infrastructure and building needs for other non-profits worldwide who are working in poor communities. They build hospitals, clinics, schools, community centers and agricultural projects. I am on their Global Partnership Development team where I get to review applications for partnership, research potential partnering organizations and help decide which projects and organizations to partner with. I often tell potential partners that CfC’s goal is to build structures that will last at least thirty years.  As I was thinking of what kind of legacy to leave for my thirty years of survival, I began to think of how my family could partner with CfC to build a health facility that serves HIV+ women in another part of the world.  I wanted a structure that will be there for the next thirty years. My hope is that other women would be given opportunities and care so they could survive to watch their grandchildren grow up too.

This is how the 30/30 Project began. It is a legacy project of my family and Construction for Change.  We started by looking for just the right partner in the world, an organization that was already serving and caring for HIV+ women and their families but who lacked the proper infrastructure to have the optimal impact. After a lengthy search, we have chosen Partners In Health, a non-profit organization that provides comprehensive health services in the rural Neno District of Nsambe, Malawi, an area heavily affected by HIV/AIDS. The 30/30 Project and CfC will build a medical clinic in the Neno District that will provide care for roughly 20,000 people. Women and their families will be able to receive comprehensive medical care and HIV/AIDS treatment.

My family and CfC are in the process of raising funds to build the health center with about half of the money pledged. We hope to break ground in May 2014. When the health center is completed it will be handed over to and operated by Partners in Health, and their local Malawi partner, Abwenzi Pa Za Umoyo. I hope you will consider helping us in this effort.

Thank you,

Julie Lewis