I am writing to urge that citizens of Mercer Island start thinking more seriously about global poverty and what more we can be doing to effectively help those less fortunate than us. Many in our community have gone on mission trips with the Mercer Island Presbyterian Church or traveled to developing countries to help build wells or farm the land. I myself traveled to China and spent a month teaching English in a rural village and the experience was life-changing. But since then, I have always wondered how my host family and the rest of the village have been doing. I sincerely hope the amount of English I was able to teach made a difference and improved their lives in some way; however, I doubt it was able to lift them out of the poverty I witnessed.
Recently, I have been involved with The Borgen Project, a local non-profit dedicated to advocating for the world’s poor and urging our own government to get behind policy that has the power to affect real change. As Americans, we are lucky enough to have one of the most powerful governments in the world and one that is run based on what the people want. Instead of building a well that will provide clean water for 100 people, we are working to get the Water for the World Act passed which will provide improved sanitation for 2.5 billion people. Currently, our national government spends less than one percent of the annual budget helping our neighbors who have the potential to be our business partners in the future.
So what can you do to make the difference? It’s as simple as a phone call or an email; there are even pre-generated versions at borgenproject.org/action-center/ that simply require filling in your name and address in order to determine who your congressional representatives are. Call or write to these representatives. Each week, congressional staffers tally the number of calls and emails about each issue to signal to the representative what issues are most important to constituents. Donating to The Borgen Project is another way to make a difference and you can find my personal campaign at www.crowdrise.com/abbyoaks#projects.
Your representatives are here to represent your interests and your voice in government. Their job is to shape the policy behind your ideas and desires. It’s time to start putting them to work.