By ONE Congressional District Leader Sandra Herrera [Ed note: She was recently chosen as our August ONE Member of the Month. Read her interview here!]
Meeting with members of Congress and Senate is not something that I would had ever think I could do. I assumed it was for the kind of people who had random game show knowledge about presidents. But get me in front of a politician who can make or break a bill, and give me an issue that I care about, like the possibility of more African kids doing homework under an electric bulb, and I’m ready to go!
That’s what I thought of last week when Team Tampa did not do one, but TWO energy access meetings with the offices of our members of Congress. For the first meeting with Ash Mason in Senator Marco Rubio’s, R-Fla., office, I was joined by Volunteer Leader Phil Saraneey and ONE South East Regional Field Director (RFD) Abby Sasser. The meeting was really encouraging. Mr. Mason told us that he really admires what we do, because he believes it is a moral issue to help the least of these. As we were leaving, Mr. Mason even told us he would go online and become a ONE member!
Next up, we met with Congresswoman Kathy Castor, D-Fla.. This time another stellar Tampa volunteer, David Paul, joined us. The meeting with her couldn’t have gone any better. She even remembered that we had met before in DC during the ONE Summit. Representative Castor shared with us that her mother had been a teacher in Uganda in the 60s. She understood the need for smart effective programs that help lift people out of poverty and was particularly moved to hear about how energy poverty affects women and girls. At the end of the meeting, the Congresswoman said she was “very inclined to cosponsor” the Electrify Africa Bill.
We ended our busy week in Tampa with an Advocacy in Action event to educate other volunteers in the importance of energy access in Africa. Fifteen of our local volunteers came together to learn more and write Senator Rubio and Representative Castor about the importance of taking a leadership role to end energy poverty. It’s exciting to see ONE Tampa grow and involve more advocates in our local efforts.
Photo caption: At Congresswoman Kathy Castor’s office
Later that night, one of our famous Florida storms blew through and my own power went out. Annoyed at the inconvenience, I sat down to read my book by candlelight. Just then a thought crossed my mind. This is what 589 million Africans deal with every day. It brought me to a place of being humble, extremely grateful for the life I live in America, and even more determined to get energy to those who need it most. Then at that moment… the power came back on.