Karen Walrond is a writer and photographer. She has appeared on both local and national television shows and other media including CNN.com and The Oprah Winfrey Show. Karen is the author of Chookooloonks, an award-winning photoblog. She is traveling to Ethiopia with ONE in October. This piece, originally published on Chookooloonks, is part of ONE's coverage in the lead up to the trip.
The packing is pretty much done -- I've been to the pharmacy and bought all the over-the-counter medicines and toiletries I need, the laundry is finished, bags are mostly packed. I'm just about ready to go.
Before I leave, however, I wanted to take a moment to explain exactly how The ONE Campaign -- the organization with whom I'm traveling to Ethiopia -- works. And I want to do this mostly because I know that when I first started learning about them, I didn't really understand how they work. If you're like I was, you probably know that ONE was co-founded by Bono, the lead singer of U2, and is somehow tangentially related to the (RED) campaign that you've seen at Gap stores. You might believe that ONE is a charity.
To be clear, ONE is not a charity.
In their words, ONE is a "nonpartisan advocacy organization dedicated to the fight against extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa." What this means is that ONE is all about working to convince governments (primarily the U.S. government, but also others) to invest in smart programs that help to eliminate extreme poverty and preventable disease in a sustainable way. Furthermore, it doesn't raise money or grants: ONE is almost completely funded by its board members and by foundations (like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, for example) -- and therefore, it never, ever asks for money from the general public.
What they do ask for, however, is your voice. The way ONE does this is by using its budget to amplify the stories of the organizations that are doing all the heavy lifting on the ground on the continent, making sure that governments see all the good change that is happening in Africa in the fight against extreme poverty and diseases like HIV/AIDS and malaria, so that they are encouraged to continue to help. In addition, ONE works to make sure the general public (both in the US and internationally) also hears these stories, so they are moved to become members of ONE. The more members ONE has, the louder ONE's voice is, and the more governments sit up and pay attention. And in turn, hopefully, the more good happens on the ground.
And this, therefore, is where the ONE Moms come in. For the last two years, ONE has taken a group of parenting bloggers to Africa to help tell these stories, sharing concrete evidence of how the organizations on the ground are using the governments' support to effect real and identifiable change for the better. Last year, I went as one of the 10 ONE Moms to Kenya -- an amazing trip, to say the least -- this year, however, ONE is taking an entirely different group of bloggers (I'm just lucky enough to tag along as their supporting photographer). While there, each of these women will be telling the stories of what they see and what they experience. And if this trip is anything like ours was to Kenya, each of these women will likely return to their homelands just a bit different from the people they were when they left, their worldviews permanently broadened in some way. I can't wait to watch them experience everything.
Because I'm not one of the bloggers for this trip, my blogging here on Chookooloonks will likely be sporadic over the next 10 days or so. I will duck in when I can (and likely leave a couple of audio messages -- like this one -- when I do), but for the most part, I will be busy shooting and processing photos for the ONE Moms who are the stars of this excursion. I promise, of course, to share my thoughts and photographs when I return; however, if you'd like to follow along "real time" as the trip unfolds, please click on the blogs of these amazing women, as they tell their tales. They are:
In addition, if you'd like to support ONE, please consider becoming a member. It's dead easy: simply add your email address to the form in the top right hand corner of my blog sidebar, and that's it.
I leave Thursday. See you soon, friends. So much more to come.
This week I'll be traveling to Ethiopia at the kind invitation and expense of The ONE Campaign, a nonpartisan, advocacy organization dedicated to the fight against extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. ONE works to convince governments to invest in smart programs that help eliminate poverty and preventable disease in a sustainable way. During the next week or so, I'll be supporting a group of parenting bloggers by capturing images that tell the story of how the organizations for which ONE advocates are effecting real change in Ethiopia.
If you're moved by anything you read or see here, on the ONE blog or any of the ONEMoms' blogs and you'd like to help, please consider adding your voice, and join ONE by simply filling out the surprisingly short form in my sidebar on the right, at the very top. Your information will remain confidential, I promise. And if you're already a member, and would still like to help, I'd love if you'd spread the word by sharing this post with your friends and followers.
That's all there is to it. Because ONE never asks for your money, just your voice.
Follow ONE on Twitter: www.twitter.com/onecampaign