Jen from Brit Mums and Michelle from Mummy from the Heart recently went to Ethiopia and I didn't give them as much online support as I ought to have done.
I don't tend to support things I know nothing about, and have always known charities REALLY well when I have raised lots for them in the past, namely for Sport Relief and the Monsoon Trust.
It's kept niggling me that I didn't lend my voice to One Mums, so I decided I only could if I got my questions answered. Luckily Michelle was cooperative and game for that, and a good sport, and patient, and.... you get the picture!
So here is our Q and A - I only wish I had a picture of us in two armchairs facing each other. If I was good on photo shop maybe I could have pulled that off :-)
So I hand you over to the interview:
During the recent blogging trip to Ethiopia that yourself and Jen went on, I kept hearing the words "we want your voice not your money" - I didn't have chance to delve into what they meant, can you elaborate?
The ONE Campaign are an NGO (non governmental organisation) and not a charity and thus it does not fund raise. Its primary aim is to be an advocate for those who do not have a voice and to campaign to keep governments and big business accountable and ensuring they keep to the promises they make. So when governments pledge aid ONE keep the pressure up and lobbys, along with their 3 million members (people like me who are interested and have signed up for emails) to ensure promises are kept and the money/ help is given.Their web pages are excellent - http://www.one.org/c/international/about/3833/ scroll down and read about how they were formed (Bono is a co-founder and their biggest voice)
So they want us to speak out and make people aware of ONE, as they are relatively unknown in the UK by the average person. As they never ask for money people do not know of them and many people seem to get confused with how easy it is to help. It is literally a case of signing online petitions to show support, writing to your MP if that is your bag and sharing their petitions etc or any type of media/ channel open to you.
Who runs One? What is their ultimate mission?
One is run by a board and they have paid staff. Most of the money they gain from donations from big business and philanthropists is to pay staff and admin as that is what they need to achieve their aim - people. I think I covered the mission above, but their web pages are far more eloquent than I am.The biggest funder of ONE is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.The Q&A page is really simple and to the point - http://www.one.org/c/international/faq/
What other countries do they help apart from Ethiopia?
They do not directly help Ethiopia or any other country as they do not fund raise and thus do not have money to donate. Their focus is predominantly on Africia and helping the worlds poorest people through their campaigning work.
Your trip was to show success, living proof. Did you get to also see what they are behind on? Where we could do more? What are their upcoming priorities?
Check out the Living proof website, it is amazing to see what charities and poor countries are achieving all the time. ONE work with all the big reputable charities and humanitarian aid agencies such as Save the Children, World Visions, Unicef etc and when you speak to people like Chris Mosler and Sian To they know ONE as they were always there alongside STC when they were handing in petitions, attending global summits etc. So they are credible in that they all work together.Different countries have different challenges and there is still loads to be achieved. I personally do not know where more could be done as to be honest I have not asked that question and my span of knowledge is limited.
I often worry that charities give too small a percentage of what they raise, to the end cause. Is that not an issue with One not being involved in fundraising?
Up to you to make your own mind up on this but basically all the money they have is used to fund the cost of what they do which is keep governments accountable, lobby and be advocates for African countries. The charities they work with are A rated charities which mean they are the most efficient out there and for me personally I think that is all I can ask for.
I always worry that we in the West use charitable endeavours as a way of going in and Westerning the world. Personally I love "village" life and would hate to see far flung places become the rat races that we have become. I have seen Ireland become more and more like the UK and it saddens me. I saw some real beauty in your posts and would like to think that these places retain their "culture" whilst being helped. Someone recently said "it takes a village to raise a child" and I truly believe that. I am currently reading Three in a Bed: The Benefits of Sleeping with Your Baby (about co-sleeping) and although only a couple of chapters in, I am enjoying hearing how other countries raise their children.
I am completely with you, it would be an outrage if places like Ethiopia became Westernised. I did a presentation about my trip at work today and I spoke about how impressed I was with what I saw of the the programs that UK and US aid are funding, they are making programs that are sustainable and that match and support the natural market and priorities of the country. Thus they have bee keeping, farming training centres and cotton based industries, there is no plans for switching to electronics or anything that might be an easy win like China have.The biggest problem in many countries is when they have corrupt governments, Ethiopia are lucky in that they have good stability and a strong government. The money that comes into the country goes a long way and the government are the ones deciding how it is best targeted and used. They are investing in education, healthcare programs, road infrastructure, farming, sanitation and all the important things.
I went to Japan in 2004 for 16 days and when I returned it took me two full weeks to adjust to the UK. I know you felt odd on your return. Are you settled back now? How long did it take? What do you think we in the UK could learn from Ethiopia?
Yes settled back in now but it took a good couple of weeks and I will be changed forever by this amazing journey. My mind has been opened. The biggest learn for me was about how we need to be more community minded. We met a group of lady beekeepers who were very poor, only 2 or 3 of the group of 12 had shoes and they walked the hard hills every day. But what they did was put 5 birr into a kitty each month so they had emergency money and any of them could take from that pool if they had a need. If one could not pay in one month then that was just the way it was as they all trusted and supported each other - it was truly beautiful. (to give perspective 28 Birr is about £1)
I also don't like it when I see charity used as an excuse to go in and vaccinate the world. I know I am probably amongst the few with this concern but will ask it nonetheless. Is that one of One's objectives?
They wish to see the end to poverty and a problem with poor people is that when they are ill they cannot fight it in the same way our strong, well fed bodies can so yes they support vaccination and after seeing the proof of how many lives it is saving, so do I. Things like polio and neonatal tetanus are practically gone in Ethiopia now due to vaccination programs. In Ethiopia once a child is vaccinated they get a certificate and we saw some mothers tell us proudly that their children were now safe and healthy because of this.
By the time I first saw you blog about One, it was like the relationship was already fostered. I couldn't find anything about the very beginning. How did you and One "meet"?
Back in about Feb they reached out to me and I investigated them and I met them along with about 6 other bloggers to talk about becoming a ONE Mum ambassador, I then started to blog about them after going to their office and finding out more and being so interested in what I found out. This was my first post back in March - http://mdplife.blogspot.com/2012/03/im-just-one-mum.html, then another in April - http://mdplife.blogspot.com/2012/04/failure-to-thrive-but-you-can-help.htmlThere is a search function on my blog type in #onemums and you'll see all my posts, which all talk about different aspects of ONE or the campaigns they are focusing on.
Did the recent trip exceed your expectations on what it would be about, and what you would see? I think I already know the answer to this...
I had no idea what to expect and I was completely blown away by the awesome country that is Ethiopia. I have a heart for helping those living in poverty now and can't wait to see how I will be involved again.
What would you like us bloggers to do now to help?
Sign up to one and receive the infrequent (not spammy) emails to find out what campaigns are happening and to see how they can help. Then people should do what they feel compelled to do - hopefully use their voice!
I hope this post goes some way to raising awareness about One.
You said you met some awesome ladies over in Ethiopia. I am sure there were many Moms (US bloggers). Have you shared their blog URLs or is there a list anywhere of everyone who went?
I have a post in drafts which I need to finish about the awesome women I travelled with. There is a list of us all on the main US #ONEMoms page. #ONEMoms is massive and has been established years, they have a dedicated staff member to ensure the program works, over here things are just starting and their is no dedicated support yet but we too will be a force to be reckoned with! http://www.one.org/us/actnow/moms/ scroll to the bottom and you see us all with blog links.