This Monday, a group of ONE Moms bloggers attended a meeting at The White House with Dr. Jill Biden, Dr. Raj Shah, Administrator for USAID, and Gayle Smith, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director at the National Security Council. On the agenda: how to raise awareness about the drought in Kenya with the goal of saving lives.
The grassroots organization ONE has been campaigning to fight extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa, since 2002. Earlier this year, ONE announced a partnership with eight social media moms. The women involved include Jennifer James of MomBloggersClub.com, Lindsay Maines of RockandRollMama.com, Emily McKhann of The Motherhood.com, Elisa Morgan of FullFill.org, Cooper Munroe of TheMotherhood.com, Karen Walrond of Chookooloonks.com, Shayne Moore for GlobalSoccerMom.com, and Jyl Johnson Pattee of MomItForward.com.
Several of the ONE Moms bloggers recently returned from a trip to Kenya where they met with African mothers living through the worst drought the world has seen in 60 years. Dr. Biden, Dr. Shah, and Smith had recently travelled to Africa as well, and were interested in sharing ideas. Jennifer James recounts the meeting on Mom Blog Magazine, “At the meeting’s outset we watched a brief video of Dr. Biden’s trip to eastern Africa where she saw the famine crisis up front. And in recounting her experience in Africa Dr. Biden sounded much like the ten of us who traveled to Kenya as ONE MOMS. It was extremely powerful to hear how her story of traveling to eastern Africa mirrored our own.”
Lindsay Maines said of the experience, “I’ve been a number of places through blogging, and I never dreamed the White House would be one. It was an honor to meet Dr. Biden, Dr. Shah, and Gayle Smith from the National Security Council. The biggest takeaway I learned is that we spend less than ONE PERCENT of the US Budget on foreign aid. I’ve held the little girl who would have died from TB if not for the CDC and USAID programs, providing cost effective and timely treatment. To be in the room the week the budget is in such grave danger was a wake up call for me- I was able to meet with my elected officials this week from my districts and tell them how much I value and support these programs- for all the other mamas out there, if you do, please write an email or pick up the phone this week and use your voice to let your representatives know- it makes a huge difference in their perceptions and sometimes, in how they vote and what they cut. It’s a time when we could eradicate HiV transmission of mother to child by 2015- or we can cut programs, and backslide fast, killing women and children. We can step up our aid to the 13 million affected by the famine, or we’ll see another 750000 people join the 29000 who have died in the last three months. They have no voice anymore. But we do.”
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Jyl Pattee reflects on how the meeting reminded her of the power of the individual. “Growing up, I learned all about government in school. The process by which our country is run always fascinated me. The part I think I missed along the way was feeling connected to the process. Our voice does matter. We can influence change in our country. We can champion causes and issues we are passionate about and help influence legislation. Going to the White House was a thrill not just because it was the White House, but because meeting with Dr. Biden, Dr. Shah, and Gayle Smith reminded me that we are all—elected official or not—part of the process that helps shape our country.”
Karen Walrond sums up the experience with a request, “Obviously, I was really impressed with everyone we met at the White House. We walked in sort of stunned that we had even been invited to the table, and thanks to Dr. Biden’s, Dr. Shah’s and Ms. Smith’s warmth and openness, we walked out feeling like it was the most natural thing in the world for us to have been there. It was an incredible day, and one for which I’ll be forever grateful to them, and to ONE. On that note, I would be remiss if I didn’t suggest to you that if you’d like to help, if you haven’t already please watch this video and sign the petition at ONE.org. As always, your voice is ONE’s most valued asset.”
In addition to the White House visit, several bloggers were featured in ONE Moms’s recent YouTube campaign, promoting education, engagement and activism on behalf of the world’s poorest.
The partnership of the ONE Moms campaign with social media leaders is another reminder that blogging can play a vital role in the promotion of social justice causes. While there are aspects of blogging that can appear self-indulgent (and even narcissistic), it is encouraging to see women using their voice to advocate on behalf of other mothers around the world.