Last month, I had the privilege of traveling to Ethiopia as a guest of the ONE Campaign. I made the journey with a delegation of remarkable moms from the United States (ONE Moms) and the United Kingdom (ONE Mums). You can read all about our adventure, observations, and subsequent activism here. This trip gave me the precious gift of perspective, helping me to reorganize my priorities so they align with my values and serve better that which I believe to be truly important.
My first full day back from Ethiopia, I received a thoughtful email from one of my daughter’s talented and conscientious teachers. While I was away, my daughter had neglected to turn in two of her homework packets, and the teacher was alerting me to the fact that my daughter would receive zeros on the assignments if not submitted. Had I received this note before my trip, I would have been alarmed and would have jumped on my daughter about this. As I stared at the email, I was overcome with gratitude that these are the kinds of “high quality” problems I address in my blessed life. I will never have to worry that my children will suffer from extreme poverty or chronic malnutrition. I will never have to worry that my children won’t receive a strong education from teachers who genuinely care about them. I will never have to worry that my children won’t have access to health care. I will never have to worry that my children won’t have a loving and nurturing environment in which to thrive.
This is not the case for the mothers we met in Ethiopia. On a daily basis, they worry about whether their children are at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS, either from them through birth or because the children have become commercial sex workers to help support their families. Mothers worry about whether they can gather enough food to feed their families and themselves. They worry about whether they can afford to send their children to school. They worry about who will take care of their children should anything happen to them. These are the heavy problems associated with extreme poverty.
Here’s the good news—we can help. In this season of giving thanks, please also consider giving back. As we enter the sixth year of The Great Recession, I know that you must be weary of people asking for donations. I assure you, I am not seeking donations. Instead, I am encouraging you to use your voice to make a difference.
US Foreign Aid constitutes less than 1% of our Gross Domestic Product. The aid we give to countries like Ethiopia supports vital programs that are working extremely well. We are not just giving farmers food; we are teaching them how to farm sustainable and nutritious crops. We are reducing mother-to-child transmission rates of HIV/AIDS from 80-90% without intervention to 5% with intervention. We are funding programs that rescue at-risk girls from the poorest urban areas, teaching them literacy, financial responsibility, life skills, and about gender violence, HIV transmission, and reproductive health. Most exciting is the fact that once the programs are up and running and generating positive outcomes, we are transitioning these successful programs to private funding or private-public funding in cooperation with local governments.
In light of all of this, please consider lending your voice to end extreme poverty throughout the world. Give thanks for all that you have, and give back to those who are much less fortunate. You don’t have to be a mother to become a ONE Mom or to support the ONE Campaign; you just have to want to make a difference.
Photo credit: Diana Prichard
ONE Mom Blogger Rana DiOrio traveled to Ethiopia with ONE this October. This piece, originally published on the Little Pickle Press blog, is part of our ongoing coverage of the trip.