Taking part in the United Against Malaria events on Capital Hill last week opened my eyes to an aspect of being a spokesperson that I had not yet contemplated. Over the years, I have shared with you all the details of my trips to Africa, essentially being the voice for the mothers and children that I encountered whose lives are fatally touched by malaria. I have also had the opportunity to share my experiences here in the United States, from elementary school drives to faith-based activities to our own sporting events.
My recent visit to Congress shed light on an area that until now has eluded my attention: encouraging YOU to use YOUR voice. I am slightly ashamed to admit that I was naïve to the world of advocacy and politics. As a spokesperson I just assumed that my job was to create awareness and encourage people to make the simple $10 donation to save a life. I did not realize that your voice is equally as important and impactful as your financial contribution. From the Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office to various other members of Congress that we visited, there proved to be a common theme throughout all of our meetings.
They believe in the importance of the cause, they acknowledge that the timing is crucial to continue to push forward with our efforts to end this disease so we do not lose the progress that we have made, but they all ended with the same conclusion: funding is difficult to come by. Each and every person I spoke with encouraged me to remind our Nothing But Nets supporters to communicate their support with their respective Congressional representatives.
I simply want to encourage you to keep that dialog going and make sure those who are casting the votes now on our behalf are conscious of the issues that you continue to remain passionate about.
World Malaria Day was just recognized a couple of days ago on April 25th. Please use this as an opportunity to make a simple $10 donation to save a life, to teach your children about the beauty of giving, and to join us as we unite to exercise our political voice. From www.NothingButNets.net and www.UnitedAgainstMalaria.org people were able to participate in one of many Sleep Outs that took place on April 24 as a symbolic gesture that we are all unified in our efforts to end malaria deaths in Africa by 2015.
As I close, I hope you can hear the collective “thank you” from the African women and children who express their gratitude to you for using YOUR VOICE on their behalf!