This month we’re reading
Every year, Bill and Melinda Gates write an annual letter to update everyone involved on the work of The Gates Foundation.
Their 2017 Annual Letter – released on Valentine’s Day – is a love letter to Warren Buffet, who in 2006, donated the bulk of his fortune to their foundation to fight disease and reduce inequity.
The 2017 Annual Gates Foundation Letter contains several important statistics, but it’s the story behind the statistics that makes it a compelling read.
The letter opens with their favourite number – 122 million:
“If we could show you only one number that proves how life has changed for the poorest, it would be 122 million – the number of children’s lives saved since 1990.
“Every September, the UN announces the number of children under five who died the previous year. Every year, this number breaks my heart and gives me hope.
It’s tragic that so many children are dying, but every year more children live.”
The letter ends with the most magical number they know – zero:
“This is the number we’re striving for every day at the foundation.
Zero malaria. Zero TB. Zero HIV. Zero malnutrition. Zero preventable deaths.
Zero difference between the health of a poor kid and every other kid.
“Polio is closest to reaching this number. Polio will soon be history. In our lifetimes, malaria will end. No one will die from AIDS. Few people will get TB.
Children everywhere will be well nourished.
“We can’t put a date on these events, and we don’t’ know the sequence,
but we’re confident of one thing: the future will surprise the pessimists.”
Throughout the letter are the stories of programs and individual people that have been helped – shared via the written story, photos and videos. And the inclusion of Melinda and Bill’s handwritten notes in the margins of the letter give this report a real authenticity.
From the foundation’s mission to vaccinate all children, reduce newborn mortality, end malnutrition and provide family planning, the letter cleverly translates big numbers to the stories of people and places.
This is data storytelling at its absolute finest. It’s from Melinda Gates, who as Bill says, “is a great storyteller” and who truly knows how to bring you the story behind the numbers. Click here to read the letter.