February 22, 2008
Students raise poverty awareness with campaign
Junior Caitlin Newman, senior Sara Luley and junior Alina Gayeuski became involved in the ONE campaign, a national advocacy organization, in the fall semester.
Since then, they have been working to make people more aware of poverty around the world.
"It's a movement of Americans who stand together in the belief that we have the technology and resources to end poverty," Newman said.
In January, Newman attended the Power 100 Summit in Washington, D.C. as a representative of Susquehanna.
There, she met with top student leaders to discuss the issue of world poverty.
Among the people who spoke were Jenna Bush, President Bush's daughter, and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who talked about U.S. policy and what is being done to fight the problem of world poverty.
As explained at ONE's Web site, in 2000, the U.N. set eight concrete steps to ending poverty that are to be met by 2015. Today, we are beyond the halfway point, and the U.N. has realized that not enough has been accomplished to reach its target. Currently, the United States gives less than 1 percent of its budget to foreign aid in developing countries, according to the Web site.
Newman, Luley and Gayeuski, started promoting the ONE campaign and its campus challenge last semester, asking students to commit themselves to the cause of ending poverty.
The campus challenge is a competition designed to make students across the country more aware of poverty and what can be done to alleviate the issue.
Last fall, students became involved in the campus challenge is through signing the campaign's declaration and vowing to work toward ending poverty.
According to Newman, more than 500 people have signed the declaration, which is more than some of the schools that are above Susquehanna in the challenge rankings.
Susquehanna is currently in 18th place.
Already, Susquehanna has beaten more than 100 schools in the challenge, but to move into the next level, the university must be within the top 10 by Feb. 24.
"It's not about winning, though," Newman said. We've raised awareness about hunger... if you just get it into [people's] minds, the next time they hear about the issues, they'll speak up."
Even without getting involved in the campus challenge, students can help the ONE campaign.
"Educate yourself, write a letter to your local newspaper telling people [poverty] is an issue," said Newman.
As explained at the ONE campaign's Web site, a few of the organization's specific goals include eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, improving maternal health, achieving universal primary education and reducing child mortality.
Its mission is to change the system largely by writing letters to members of Congress that ask them to sponsor bills that will help end poverty.
One of the most important goals of ONE organization is to help grant countries debt cancellations.
As Newman explained, by canceling debts, countries can begin to improve their living conditions.
"Developing countries are still paying for debts from the 1960s," Newman said. "For example, for every dollar of aid given to Africa, the country needs to be paying over two dollars in debt interest. If debts were cancelled, there would be no fees for school; poor children could receive an education."
The ONE campaign works directly with the government. It is a non-partisan organization that works with all political parties.
"It never says a side or the other is better; there is only ONE side in the fight against poverty. It makes sense: who would say they're okay with poverty and hunger?" asked Newman.
With the upcoming elections, it's an especially critical time for the ONE campaign.
To help make people more aware of the issues and what candidates will do to help solve this problem, ONE's Web site, one.org, has created an "On the Record" page.
There, candidates have been interviewed about what they plan to do to help eliminate poverty.
"You can vote for the person you think will help. We elect people to represent us; you have to believe they will listen and your efforts will affect their decisions," Newman said.
To become involved, students should visit ONE's Web site.
There, students can become part of the campaign, join the campus challenge, listen to the candidates' plans for fighting poverty and learn how to contribute to the cause.
"Poverty is easily prevented with just pennies. It's awesome to think of a day when people will look back and be amazed that people actually didn't have food," Newman said, "We're working towards when the reality [of poverty] today seems unreal."
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