One of my biggest fears coming back from Ethiopia was that I wouldn’t be able to do something of worth with what I’d learned. You travel halfway around the world and have this tremendous, life-changing experience and then when you return home it’s not always immediately evident how you can incorporate that experience into your life.
That’s one of the reasons I’ve been looking forward to spending this week in Washington D.C. at the ONE offices and on Capitol Hill — my reluctant obsession with politics being the other. I’ve oft joked in the weeks leading up to this that now at least when people at home kvetch about those damned lobbyists I can have a little fun with them, but the truth is it’s really nice to have the ability to do something physical and immediately tangible with all of this.
Though this week is just an extension of the storytelling that we’ve all been focusing on for the past month, there is something really incredible about having the opportunity to do that storytelling in person, face to face. So nice, in fact, I’d love nothing more than to to sit down over a nice cup of coffee with each and every single one of you and do the same. Being able to do so with the people who hold a tremendous amount of responsibility for the future of the programs we saw on the ground in Africa in their hands is just icing on the cake.
Today, along with nine other women, I spent a full day on Capitol Hill visiting both with the office of my own Member of Congress as well as some of those Senators who are playing key roles in negotiations over the impending Fiscal Cliff, and I’ve repeatedly been struck by how much these people care, how much they want to hear from us, and how sincerely interested they are in listening to our experiences and opinions.
If there’s anything I’ve taken away from this experience it’s that your legislators want to hear from you. As we continue to march towards the Fiscal Cliff, please consider contacting your House Representative and Senator(s) offices to let them know what budget items are important to you and why. They and their staff are there to serve you — you’re the voters, your ideas matter. And if you’ve been moved by what you’ve read here and elsewhere about development aid be sure to mention ONE in your calls and letters. ONE staffers are here year round making sure these people know what they do, and we’re here this week to make sure they know who we are, and by extension you, too.