07/16/2012 03:52 pm ET | Updated Sep 15, 2012

Weekends Are for Conference Calls -- Right?

On Saturday, I joined the RESULTS Educational Fund (REF) global grassroots conference call. If you are thinking that 'conference call' and 'Saturday' don't go together, bear with me.

Once a month, REF 'super activists' from around the U.S. get together and hear from leaders in health, policy and development. Though I am now Director of ACTION a global partnership of advocacy organizations focused on health justice and based at REF, there was a time many years ago when I was just a disaffected 20-something unhappy about the state of the world.

I invested in service, in the military and in my community. I wrote letters, I volunteered, I studied, I hoped. I wasn't sure I was doing the right things at the right time (so I also swore a lot) and I felt really really alone in my anger at the injustice of this world. Basic 20-something stuff in some ways, but it was doing my head in.

Then I joined a REF conference call. I think it was the first conference call I had ever been on (don't take me in general for a fan!) and it started to shift things.

REF folks are just regular people who learn (from each other and REF staff) about the solutions, the legislation, the decision-makers, the power to make things happen and the exponential power of coordinating around the U.S., and through RESULTS International and ACTION partners, around the world. RESULTS volunteers take the business of democracy and their role in it seriously.

Stephen Lewis, Formerly the Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, was the special guest on this month's call. He spoke powerfully and frankly to REF activists who he treats as partners in his high-level work. He answered their questions -- no intermediary, no bull. He shared the truth of the possibility of the end of AIDS, the need to support The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, and the realities of what we are up against.

Before Stephen got off the call to spend some time with his new grandchild, he noted that RESULTS grassroots are doing 'lovely and important work... improving the human condition' and he reminded us all that 'nothing is more important.'


Join us next month.

Or meet us next week at the RESULTS International Conference. Meet ACTION partners from around the world at the open to the public global village at The International AIDS Conference.

Kolleen Bouchane is the Director of ACTION, a global partnership of advocacy organizations working to influence policy and mobilize resources to fight diseases of poverty and improve equitable access to health services. ACTION's current focus issues are tuberculosis (TB) -- the leading killer of people with HIV/AIDS -- and increasing equitable access to childhood vaccines.