Every new intern group at ONE’s headquarters in Washington, DC is asked to put together a project of their choice. After some deliberation, we decided to plan an event around World AIDS Day. We all came to this project with different connections to this deadly disease, whether through an interest in public health or travel to areas of Africa affected by AIDS. We decided to put together an event at the end of November, in correspondence with ONE’s World AIDS Day mission. Our goal: raise awareness about the looming fiscal cliff that could potentially cut live-saving programs across the world.
We engaged an audience of active young professionals and student leaders in the DC area who are involved in various student organizations that are relevant to ONE’s causes and the mission to end HIV/AIDS. The event was a social affair that allowed for politically active young people to mingle and network. We started our presentation with this video (below) that we created at the DC AIDS Walk Washington, where more than 100 walkers signed our AIDS petition. Our video from the walk highlighted some of the inspiring people who came together to honor family and friends who have passed and why they’re passionate about seeing the beginning of the end of AIDS.
Watch our video!
Following the video, amfAR’s Owen Ryan shared his personal story on why he became involved in the AIDS crisis, telling stories of when he worked in Malawi for the Peace Corps and saw first-hand the devastation that AIDS had on local communities. His story — that everyone he met with AIDS has died — brought him to tears during his presentation. Then ONE’s own Legislative Director Jay Heimbach discussed how devastating the fiscal cliff would be to life-saving AIDS programs such as PEPFAR and the Global Fund.
We wrapped up the evening with a call to action for guests to sign ONE’s petition and write a letter to their representatives to help protect lifesaving initiatives. There were also resources on hand for interested students on how to create a ONE Campus chapter. This event highlighted the importance of the ongoing fiscal cliff negotiations. Cuts to the international aid budget would reverse the momentous progress that has been made over the past decade. We wanted to bring together future leaders in the fight against AIDS to call on Congress to maintain funding levels for the international affairs budget.
All told, it was inspiring evening for our guests and the interns at ONE who worked hard all semester to help with the fight against extreme poverty and preventable disease. Every day was worth the effort.