Melissa is a third-year student at the University of Ottawa and has been involved with ONE since September 2019. We met Melissa when she was looking to get involved with her community and her university connected us.
Hi Melissa, it was so great to have you volunteer with us at the ONE in Canada HQ! First off, we’d like to know how did you get involved with ONE?
I heard about ONE through the Michaëlle Jean Centre for Global and Community Engagement (CGCE) at my the University of Ottawa. The CGCE promotes community engagement among students by pairing them with not-for-profit organizations for a volunteer term. I chose to volunteer with ONE because of the mission: to end extreme poverty and preventable disease. This mission resonates with me. I know it’s a realistic goal and I want to help make it happen.
What’s something you learned about advocacy in Canada that you didn’t know?
I knew that advocacy on social media and the internet was widespread. But through volunteering with ONE, I also learned that the most impactful way to advocate involves actions like meeting people in person, writing my MP and writing letters to the editor and op-ed for newspapers. Advocacy in Canada also involves regular engagement with MPs in different ways to press them to support effective development policies and programs that contribute to ending extreme poverty and preventable disease.
Through ONE, I learned to leverage democracy to promote dignity and opportunity for everyone, everywhere. Taking high impact actions that reach decision makers in Parliament is an essential part of ensuring that Canada does its part on the world stage. The big takeaway for me is that ‘advocacy’ means awareness, engagement, high impact actions, and personal contact. Best of all, anyone can be an advocate. It takes all kinds of people to get things done.
How is ONE different from other NGOs that you’ve worked with?
What sets ONE apart from other NGOs I’ve worked with is that ONE does not ask for money, they ask for our voices. ONE is focused on advocating for program funding, not running on the ground programs themselves. ONE uses policy expertise, engages pop culture personalities, creates partnerships with other NGOs, and mobilize people to call on politicians to support international development policies that can help end extreme poverty.
People are encouraged to take high impact actions like writing letters to the editor, writing to an MP or meeting with an MP and the sum of these actions add up to a big impact: a policy or a government’s decision to invest in international development programs. Everyday citizens get to be part of changing the world for the better.
ONE is a global organization and operates in many different countries but in each country, volunteers are encouraged to organize themselves into local groups so that they can leverage their influence in their community and with their local elected official.
Despite the busy holidays season, @ONECampaign supporters across the country still find time to sign postcards to the Prime Minister to show that they care about Canada's role in ending extreme #poverty! Canada, let's step up in 2020!@Foodgrains @ResultsCda @ewb @GlblCtznCAN pic.twitter.com/LItur8ooYS
— ONE Canada (@ONE_in_Canada) December 13, 2019
Through your experience with ONE, what does ending extreme poverty mean?
Ending extreme poverty means providing the means for people to access services like healthcare, education, employment and financial services that will give them access to the dignity and opportunity that we all deserve. And through my experience with ONE, it’s through good governance and active civil society that push to support policies and programs that get people out of extreme poverty.
It means working together and putting aside our differences to accomplish a common goal through cooperation. If we can end poverty, the people we help can live up to their full potential and even become our trading partners.
We have a lot to do to end extreme poverty: we need to advance gender equality in education, in employment, and in all areas of life, we need to fight AIDS and other preventable diseases, invest more in economic empowerment and nutrition, we need to organize, educate, and mobilize people. Ending extreme poverty means a better world for everyone.