Facing the fiscal cliff

This is a guest blog post from Matt McCutchan, social media and communications coordinator of Mocha Club. This was originally published on the Mocha Club blog.

In 2004, after already having spent time in Africa, Mocha Club Director Barrett Ward created the Mocha Club with a vision of empowering individuals to give up the cost of a few mochas a month to support relief and development projects identified by the local, African communities. We address extreme poverty in a holistic manner by serving communities with a variety of solutions that include care for orphans and women at-risk, providing access to education, creating clean water solutions and supporting communities living with HIV/AIDS.

While working with communities to help them identify their needs, we regularly see the impact of US foreign aid in their lives. Specifically, in the area of HIV/AIDS, there was a time in our recent past when this diagnosis was a near certain death sentence for those with which we work and serve. Now, with the support of US foreign assistance, 8 million patients are receiving treatment for the disease, up from 200,000 just 10 years ago. This directly impacts how we partner with communities and jointly create solutions for their health care needs.

In 2008, while working in Ethiopia, Barrett met a friend serving the area through the Clinton HIV/AIDS initiative, (now called the Clinton Health Access Initiative) which has helped to bring AIDS care and treatment to over 750,000 people living with HIV/AIDS. Barrett has often spoken of the effective approach that was being taken, as well as the quality of people who were carrying out the work, on both the US and Ethiopian side. Most importantly, he saw that the local government was a partner in this work, ensuring community owned solutions and implementation.

This coming January the US faces the “fiscal cliff” and the potential halting or significant reduction of foreign assistance to communities in need throughout the world. The Mocha Club is dedicated to locally developed projects where the community identifies the needs and the response. US foreign aid is not only a successful, strategic partner in addressing extreme poverty in Africa, but one that has made tremendous progress on less than 1 percent of the federal budget. Our desire is for a solution that protects and empowers the “least of these” throughout the continent of Africa.

Our friends at ONE are providing you with an opportunity to make your voice heard with a petition to preserve the International Affairs account which helps to fight HIV/AIDS, childhood diseases and more around the globe. Check it out here: