Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Stand Up Against Poverty

How does a stay-at-home mother of three end up at a fashion show in the city, meeting and talking with a world famous rock star?

About three years ago Bono came through the midwest on his Heart of America Tour. I attended this event with the sole purpose of seeing my favorite band's lead singer. I could have cared less what he was saying. U2 was my generation's Beatles! Posters of Bono plastered my highschool room and locker.

But what I heard that night changed my life. After hearing the sobering realities of extreme poverty and HIV/AIDS something happened to me. I woke up. I woke up to realities such as today 1 billion people live on less than a dollar a day. I woke up to the realization that I can make a difference.

Since attending the Heart of American Tour I have joined the ONE Campaign and worked to educate myself and others. I have emailed, called and visited my Congressmen. I was chosen to attend G8 Summits (2005 in Scotland and 2006 in Russia) as a ONE delegate urging world leaders to keep their promises to the world's poorest people. I have travelled to Kenya and I have seen first hand the results of our efforts. Such as a mother leaving an AIDS clinic with life saving medicine made available to her by the legislation I urged the President and Congress to pass and support.

I am involved in ONE not to meet Bono or other high profile people, but because I believe what they are saying. I join them in the belief that our generation can defeat poverty. As a suburban women I can do nothing alone. As a ONE member I can change the world.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

At the G8 Summit

I feel like Sydney from an episode of ALIAS!! OK, minus the hot pink wig, the tight dress and the fluent Russian. This stay at home mom and ONE volunteer is taking in all the sights and sounds of the G8 Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia. The setting on an island in the Baltic Sea--which we travel to through security check points and only by boat--adds to the spy movie feel, but in reality it is all business here at the G8.

This morning I attended a press conference with President Bush and Russian President Putin. The men discussed very important global concerns including the nuclear weapon issue and the conflict in the mideast. Having never been in the same room with a U.S. President I was quite taken with it all. But throughout the press conference I kept having this nagging question.

With all this talk of war and conflict, extreme poverty kills thousands of people every day. Will world leaders fulfill their promises made last year at the G8 or will they break their word?

I attended the G8 Summit last year as a ONE delegate where G8 leaders promised $50 billion more in effective international assistance per year by 2010, with half of that for Africa. Some other promises included near universal access to AIDS drugs and care for AIDS orphans and to reduce the impact of malaria by 85% and help save the lives of 600,000 children every year. When it comes to these AID promises the G8 leaders are off track. America has made some increases in development assistance but more needs to be done. With debt the G8 has kept their promise canceling the debt of 19 countries. Will they make advances on trade as the recent collapse of trade talks threatens the poorest countries.

I’m just one, ordinary person who in this moment is having an extraordinary experience, and who is sitting in on Presidential press conferences. So far Bush has not asked for a sit down chat with me yet! And that is the power of ONE. As one person I’m just sitting in a room full of people with my silent questions. Together we are loud and those nagging concerns become points on the world leader’s agenda at the G8 Summit.

On Sunday the G8 leaders are scheduled to discuss these things. As ONE we need to urge G8 leaders to keep their promises to Africa and the world’s poorest people.