Raising awareness about US international assistance – and asking for your voice

Blogger Rana DiOrio, Founder and Chief Executive of Little Pickle Press, 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

Feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders

My recent trip to Ethiopia with a delegation of ONEMoms (and ONE Mums) affected me profoundly. I went to Ethiopia at a very pivotal time in my life. I was feeling the full weight of my responsibilities as a single mother of three young children with no member of my family proximate to help me to raise them. I was raising capital for my growth stage company, which while exciting is extremely taxing.

I was exhausted on a cellular level having worked 6 to 7 days a week since the inception of my company in 2009. In all honesty, I was feeling alone with my challenges, and I welcomed the trip as an opportunity to change my perspective. And that it did.

The breathtakingly beautiful video

If you are curious about what the ONE Moms did in Ethiopia, I invite you to watch this powerful and moving video created by Ryan Youngblood, the gifted filmmaker who traveled with us and captured the essence of our experience so poignantly.

At the 2:25 minute mark, there is a brief frame of a ONE Mom’s hand on her notebook, my hand. It rests on a page upon which I had written personal commentary vs. factual observations. It says, “Messages I’d like to convey: You are not alone. You are loved.” The single mothers we met in Ethiopia needed to hear these messages, and so do we from time-to-time. So did I at that time. With each field visit, the ONE Moms forged meaningful connections between the Ethiopian experience and our own.

The gift of perspective

What I realized upon my return home is that my problems, while very real and challenging, are surmountable and relatively benign. I realized that I have been blessed with so many gifts and resources and that I what I really need to be doing is applying them more directly to helping those much less fortunate than me, the mothers and children in Ethiopia. I understood that by connecting myself to the single mothers of Ethiopia, I would feel less alone and more loved. I also realized that I can effect positive change by using my voice as opposed to my checkbook, and so can you.

The call to action

I am a giver, and I don’t often ask for things. I am asking you, however, to read and consider signing this ONE Campaign petition.

Photo Credit: Karen Walrond/ONE

Here’s why:

– The US spends less than one penny out of every dollar on foreign aid.

– The programs we fund are sophisticated, well-conceived, well-executed, and they deliver astonishingly positive results impacting millions of people

– The programs are designed to be turned over to the private sector and local governments once they have demonstrated their intended outcomes [NOTE: For example, during our meeting with the USAID Ethiopia delegation, I learned that the Mary Joy Association was once a USAID-funded program and now is funded and run through a collaboration among private sector donors and the Ethiopian government.

– If we cut the budget earmarked for US foreign aid, hundreds of thousands of lives will be at risk, and the likelihood for political instability in the regions we’ve helped becomes very real. If allies, such as Ethiopia become unstable then there may arise a need for military involvement or support, which will cost us orders of magnitude more, money and US human capital, than the financial aid we give currently.

– If we cut the budget earmarked for US foreign aid, there is also a strong likelihood that China will swoop into these regions and exploit them for their own economic gain. [NOTE: For a more detailed discussion of conservative arguments in support of US foreign aid, please click here.

– We are helping nations like Ethiopia to become healthy and economically self-sufficient. We are not giving handouts. Our assistance is not creating learned helplessness. Quite the contrary, we are helping these countries to overcome extreme poverty, become fiscally independent, and one day even become trading partners and importers of US goods and services.

– Extreme poverty is a nonpartisan issue, and the leaders of both the Democratic and Republican parties have underscored the importance of this issue.

– The season of Thanksgiving is an ideal time to reflect upon all of your blessings and to lend your voice to help those who most need your help, such as the beneficiaries of US Foreign Aid.

Photo credit: Diana Prichard
Thank you for investing your time to learn more about our trip and how you can help the people of Ethiopia and other regions of the world gripped by extreme poverty. As always, I welcome your comments and questions.

Sign the petition here: 

I have recently returned from Ethiopia at the kind invitation and expense of The ONE Campaign, a nonpartisan, advocacy organization dedicated to the fight against extreme poverty and malnutrition, particularly in Africa. ONE works to convince governments to invest in smartprograms that save lives. While there, I traveled with a group of parenting bloggers to observe how the organizations for which ONE advocates are effecting real change in Ethiopia. ONE doesn’t ask for your money, just your voice. Should you choose to add your voice by signing the petition, your information will remain confidential.