Make Juliet’s Dream a Reality

In Population Action International's (PAI) seminal documentary, Abstaining from Reality, HIV-positive Kenyan Juliet Awuor says about the boyfriend with whom she contracted HIV, "He took away my dreams and my future." For those of you who have seen the short film or even met Juliet during the film's European and North American rollout, you know that she still has many dreams for the future. Neither her HIV nor the loss of her infant son nor her subsequent stroke has stolen all hope. This was evidenced by her thoughts in March when PAI took her to London for the film's debut in Parliament: "After London, I see so many possibilities," she wrote.

Juliet was chosen by filmmaker Daniele Anastasion from among several young women in Nairobi who had contracted HIV because they did not have the information or supplies to protect themselves. In the film, Juliet's story becomes a visceral example of how PEPFAR (President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) is hurting the very people it seeks to help. But Juliet is not an example—she is a woman who laughs and cries and prays to leave the slum where she now resides. At PAI, we are hoping to make that prayer a reality.

Juliet's dream is to attend a two year degree program in Communications at Daystar University in Nairobi. The cost of the program is $4,000 per year, which includes tuition and room and board. Daystar University is a Christian interdenominational university accredited by the Kenyan government. Their vision is to be a "distinguished, Christ-centered, African institution of higher learning for the transformation of church and society."

With a degree, Juliet Awuor's horizons will expand beyond the slum and perhaps even beyond Nairobi. For a total of $8,000 U.S. dollars, we can collectively change a life. And on the day in 2009 when Juliet strides across the stage to collect her diploma, we would each be there—at least in spirit—to cheer her on as proud believers in her potential.

Please take eight minutes to watch her story and then write a check to send her to school. We need to collect the first $4,000 by July 31 so she can start in the fall. Please send a check for whatever you can afford, made out to "PAI, Juliet's Fund" and sent to Tamar Abrams at PAI, 1300 19th Street, NW, Suite 200, Washington DC 20036. No funds will be expended on administrative costs—all money will go for Juliet's education. If you would like to wire the money, please email me and I'll send you the information.

We use the word "reality" in the title of the documentary. I am hoping to apply it in a more hopeful context to Juliet's future. Please join us.

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  • scott-swenson

    When Tamar first sent the video during the US roll out, I was blown away by the power of the short film. When she sent an email to colleagues asking for support, I set it aside knowing I wanted to help, but then got busy. When she wrote last week asking if she could make an appeal to our readers, not only did I think it was a great idea, but finally got off my butt and sent my own check. We don’t ask for money to support this site from our community of readers, and we know everyone gives to plenty of good causes. Rarely do opportunities come to have such a direct, profound and tangible impact on a person’s life, a person whose grace and eloquence speaks truth to power. Please watch the video on TV Reality on our front page, and please answer Tamar’s call for help.

    Be the change you seek,

    Scott Swenson, Editor

  • invalid-0

    Thanks to Scott, and Ellen Marshall, at RH Reality Check and a lot of others, we have now collected $2980 toward the $4000 we need for Juliet’s first year at Daystar University in Nairobi. I am confident we will find the additional $1020 before the July 31 deadline. Juliet’s first day of classes will be due to the grace and generosity of 23 people, as of today. I am confident that our collective belief in her potential will fuel her own hopes for her future. Thanks…and it’s not too late to donate!