WorldLegacy Graduate, Ellen Coates, creates a health project in Sudan

100% is possible 100% of the time. I’m in S. Sudan today because two years ago, one week after completing my WorldLegacy Trainings and beginning Leadership Practice at the WorldLegacy, I decided to do something about the fact that very few children here have access to basic health services, so one in four of them die before reaching their fifth birthday. Using the skills I had acquired, and the determination, self-confidence, and willingness to risk that I had acquired at WorldLegacy, I got some of my public health colleagues in different non-government organizations in the US interested in participating in the project. It took almost two years, but eventually I secured $5 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and in the meantime, two of my colleagues, one from Atlanta and one from Ethiopia, also completed training at Legacy. Together we are now in Juba, S. Sudan to help start the project which, over the next three years, will strengthen polio eradication and child immunization activities and build local capacity to improve children’s health over the long term.

We arrived in Juba five days ago and have been using our training to overcome a variety of obstacles and roadblocks, build supportive and visionary relationships, and enroll others into thinking out of their boxes and making 100% possible. In addition, we’ve actually increased the scope and reach of the project so it will reach thousands more children, and we’re talking about what we’re going to do next to get the resources to expand the project even more.

When we arrived in Juba, the town was all but empty of children — something I’ve never seen in 15 years of working in developing countries. It turns out many parents had sent their children away to protect them from the threat of violence during the referendum vote. Now, while they are looking toward building a new independent nation, we are creating an opportunity to help make sure those kids grow up to enjoy the freedom their parents and grandparents fought and died to win. There’s still a lot of work to do, and a few more challenges to overcome, but I know for certain that we’ll succeed. Because of this project, this year 250,000 or more children under age 5 who have not had adequate access to immunization and other basic health services will be protected from life-threatening diseases, and that number will grow every year from now on. We dream of a world where polio has been eradicated, and where children grow up healthy and can realistically look forward to having the lives they dream of having. This week we’re getting to take another big step toward making that dream a reality!

Ellen Coates
WorldLegacy Leadership graduate
NC105 WorldLegacy Leadership, and she coached NC112 and NC131 WorldLegacy Leadership