Sunday, March 06, 2011

Don't Hate; Advocate

Last week, I had the great pleasure of participating in Save the Children's Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill.

What is Save the Children?
Save the Children (STC) is the leading independent organization for creating lasting change in the lives of children throughout the world. STC responds to disasters around the world, including tsunamis and civil conflict, with food, medical care, and education. They remain in communities to help build long-term recovery programs and resolve ongoing issues children face each day, including poverty, hunger, illiteracy, and disease.

What's Advocacy Day? 
Each year, STC (US) invites supporters, students, board members, staff, and partners to meet with senators and congressmen on Capitol Hill and advocate for children's issues, both domestic and abroad.

This year, approximately 200 attendees were broken into groups and each group was assigned one of two issues: federal education programs for children in poor areas throughout the US as well as maternal, newborn, and child survival programs throughout the world. My group lobbied for the latter topic. We spent the morning learning the facts in well-planned education sessions, and, in the afternoon, attended meetings with offices of representatives from both the Senate and the House to ask them to take action on these issues.  

The Facts: What's the Problem? 

  • Over 8 million children this year will die before their 5th birthday - over 20,000 every day - many from causes that are preventable or treatable. 
  • The largest portion of preventable deaths in these children are due to pneumonia, diarrhea, and newborn complications. 
  • Malnutrition is an underlying condition, contributing to more than one-third of deaths.   
The Expense: How much does it cost to treat these diseases? 
  • Pneumonia: less than US$10 per case
  • Malaria: less than US$1 per case and US$10 for one bednet 
  • Diarrhea: less than US$0.80 per case
The Federal Budget: How does it impact these issues? 
  • Though it is often one of the first areas to receive cuts, the US annual budget's allocation to international affairs comprises less than 1% of its total. 
While I sincerely hope our appeals were heard and changes will be reflected in the FY11 and FY12 budgets, Advocacy Day achieved its goal of educating me, along with 200 others, about critical issues facing the world today. That, in itself, is an amazing success and one that should be applauded!  

One Last Item
I cannot conclude this post without giving props to my friend - and frequent Ping pin-up boy - Ryan, STC staffer and Advocacy Day extraordinaire. Congratulations, Ryan!

To learn more about Save the Children's child survival campaign, visit

Have an issue close to your heart? Advocate below!