ONE to raise awareness with study session
Published: Thursday, October 17, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, November 19, 2013 12:11
Later this month, several Tulane undergraduates will begin camping out after dark on benches under streetlamps on McAlister Place with their textbooks and notepads in hand. Emily Herrick, who will participate, said she fully expects to receive funny looks and inquiries from passersby; here in the United States, that image is strange. In many places, it is common for students to work by street light: a quarter of the world’s population lives without electricity.
“This is what students in the developing world have to do on a day-to-day basis,” said Meredith Horowski, the national campus coordinator for ONE, a group that advocates for foreign and sustainable aid. “When the sun goes down, you have to find ways in which you can continue to study.”
Bono started the international group ONE in 2004 to advocate for government funding to be given to foreign aid groups in areas of the developing world that demonstrate need. ONE aims to end poverty by 2030.
ONE established a Tulane chapter in spring 2012 and became an official campus organization at the beginning of the fall semester.
It is currently advocating for the Electrify Africa Act, a bill that could potentially bring first-time electricity access to at least 50 million Africans by 2020. Herrick, president of ONE at Tulane, said by studying outside, ONE members hope to keep Tulane students mindful of the struggles many students in developing nations go through to continue their education after dark.
“It’s a way for us to visualize it for ourselves,” Herrick said. “It’s a different reality. We don’t ask for your money, we ask for your voice. A lot of what we’re doing is trying to do is get community members and students interested in foreign aid and for them to contact people in Congress.”
Horowski said Americans believe 20 to 30 percent of the U.S. budget is spent on life-saving foreign assistance programs, when, in reality, less than one percent of the budget is spent on foreign aid.
“We do a lot of campaign work around protecting funding for aid programs throughout the budget process and ensuring that our elected officials know that their constituents want to see that funding maintained,” Horowski said.
Herrick said ONE places importance on political involvement and establishing connections with political officials.
“The thought is that the U.S. government has the money to spend on [foreign aid], so we’re trying to get [it] to spend [its] money rather than private funding,” Herrick said
ONE members called, tweeted and wrote letters to Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise urging him to co-sponsor the Electrify Africa Bill on Tuesday night. The bill falls in line with the issue of energy poverty, one of ONE’s main areas of interest. Others include disease prevention, agricultural assistance and assurance of transparency of government funds to foreign aid.
Allison Thornton, vice president of finance for Tulane’s chapter, cited movements to administer vaccines and mosquito nets in foreign countries as examples of ONE’s programming.
“The money isn’t going toward emergencies,” Thornton said. “It’s about prevention.”
Horowski agreed, saying ONE’s goals focus on promoting sustainability, and not on advocating for relief aid in disasters.
“It’s less reactive,” Horowski said. “We’re investing in empowering the world’s poorest people to lift themselves out of poverty in a way that’s sustainable and long-lasting.”
Herrick said Tulane’s ONE chapter has attracted students interested in a wide range of disciplines, as the group provides opportunities to work with biological, political science, public health and economic aspects of advocacy.
“There are other organizations [at Tulane] that have similar causes, but they don’t do things in the same way,” Herrick said.
Thornton cited that ONE is unique to Tulane because the group is bipartisan, and unlike many other advocacy groups, fundraising is not part of the mission.
“We’re in between a political organization and a service organization,” Thornton said. “We try to work with both sides of that.”
Horowski said her favorite aspect of ONE is its the sole focus on advocacy.
“[ONE] empowers students who know that they care about these issues, and who know that they want to participate in a more just society,” Horowski said. “It gives them the platform and the tools to do that right from their own campus.”