Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A ‘beautiful day’ at the Seattle U2 show

“It’s a beautiful day/ Don’t let it get away.”
U2′s “Beautiful Day” song must have been written on a day like this past Saturday in Seattle. As volunteers from around the Pacific Northwest gathered to hit the streets with the message of vaccines, there was not a cloud in the sky. And for that reason, those lyrics echoed in my head as I challenged myself to talk to as many people as I possibly could about the ONE Campaign. I figured talking to hundreds of strangers about global poverty would be draining, but at the end of the five-hour frenzy, I actually felt incredibly inspired. I never could have guessed how invigorating it would be to add member after member to ONE or to spark someone’s realization that their unique voice could be an incredibly powerful tool.

Sometimes the conversation started with difficulty because let’s face it, the facts are completely overwhelming. Once I began to talk about extreme poverty around the world, people’s eyes glazed over and they absentmindedly reached for their wallet as if on autopilot to fork over a few bucks and go on their way. “No, we don’t want your money,” I would say. That seemed to penetrate through people’s blank stare and grab attention. “We don’t want your money. We want your voice.” Now, let’s talk about the solution. If the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI) is given adequate funding at the June 13 conference, they can save the lives of 4 million children, nearly double the number of ONE members, in five years. Put into context, every single ONE member has the opportunity to speak out for two children somewhere in the world who don’t otherwise have a voice. Put all together, these voices have the potential to make a clamor that echoes around the world.
Just as the U2 concert is a catalyst to engage fans with ONE, parallel movements are building all over the country. In two weeks, 1,000 young people in their 20s and 30s will gather in Seattle to party… (wait for it…) They will Party With A Purpose! This year, they echo the sentiments of ONE to say that vaccines are the most cost-effective way to save lives and prevent disease for a lifetime. And I think people are going to listen because when 1,000 young people dressed in cocktail attire decide to make tuberculosis vaccines the topic of conversation on a Friday night, they make quite the statement.
As I heard the deafening cheers of U2 fans packed in Seattle on Saturday, I realized this is how loud unified voices can be. What would it be like if all 75,000 fans marched right out of the stadium all the way to our state’s capital? What if they could speak together to say that extreme poverty around the world is not acceptable? What if they stood firm together that something must be done to end extreme global poverty?
This is what ONE is doing, one city at a time, to create a global movement that says enough is enough. In Seattle, I am proud to say that in one afternoon, an incredible group of volunteers added 3,620 new ONE members to the movement!

That is the power of one voice multiplied around the world. We are ONE, are you?
-Stephanie Grow, ONE member 

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