Julie Barth, a long-time ONE member, wrote this piece for us after volunteering with #ONEonTour at the Boston U2 shows.
So I’m standing next to the stage waiting for U2 to come on. I’m looking up at the rafters of the Boston TD Garden and I see championship banner after championship banner with some of the greatest names in sports: Bobby Orr, Larry Bird, Bill Russell, etc. All that greatness in one arena. But greatness is not just relegated to sport.
About 10 years ago I was in this same arena waiting to see U2. I wasn’t yet involved in activism. But then I met a ONE volunteer who asked me one simple question: would I lend my voice for a cause? I did, and signed their petition.
Over time I started getting involved with the ONE Campaign online. The more I got involved the more I realized that individuals working together truly make a difference in the fight against extreme poverty. I am now a well-informed Congressional District Leader, a volunteer position that gives me access to training from ONE, and monthly national conference calls to stay informed on the challenges faced by the poorest countries. In return, I plan local events to engage new volunteers and help members take action, like writing letters to members of Congress to support ending extreme poverty.
ONE did (and still does) so much to fuel my passion and made it easy to get more involved. They educated me, for example, on how development assistance helps save lives. Did you know that, with the help of ONE members, 51 million children in sub-Saharan Africa are now going to school for the first time? Or that malaria has been cut by 75% in 8 African countries since 2000? Unbelievable statistics.
But there is still a great deal of work to be done. Take Senator Warren, for example. I met her in the fall as part of ONE’s Energize Africa efforts in Washington, DC. I shared with Senator Warren my concerns that 90 million children are going to school in sub-Saharan African without access to electricity. Through my education with ONE, I have learned that the World Health Organization says that by providing basic healthcare to women around the world we would lower maternal deaths by 67% and newborn mortality by 77%. And by providing proper education to girls we could cut global poverty by 12%. We are working to bring these ideals to fruition.
Today I’m standing next to the stage waiting for U2. Our local ONE team and I just spent hours petitioning concert goers to lend their voice to support women and girls living in extreme poverty in a petition called “Poverty is Sexist”. Over four days we captured more than 4,189 signatures from people like you and me who are eager to lend their voice.
I am not a world champion athlete. I’m a teacher, a mother and, now, an advocate. I am part of the hardest working group of volunteers you could ever imagine. No banners. No championships. Just victories. Because over those 10 years I learned the most valuable lesson: my voice, and yours, is greatness. I know, it’s not a championship banner being raised to the rafters. It’s something so much more important!