Students lobby Congress to continue foreign aid

Media Credit: Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Rachael Han is the president of GW's chapter of the ONE Campaign, which seeks to end extreme poverty and preventable disease. She plans to meet with senators on Capitol Hill to discuss foreign aid.

GW’s chapter of an international advocacy group will lobby U.S. lawmakers this week to continue to support foreign aid and provide electricity to underdeveloped African countries.

This year’s “Power Summit,” organized by the international ONE Campaign, will bring about 170 students from 49 states to the District to meet with their representatives for its eighth time. The students will discuss the nation’s budget for foreign aid and the Electrify Africa Act, a bill that would bring electricity to as many as 50 million people living in sub-Saharan Africa.

Rachael Han, the president of GW’s ONE chapter, said she will meet with Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., and Sen. John Isakson, R-Ga., from her home state, since D.C. does not have its own senators.

Two other GW students will go to the summit. It will be the first time the GW chapter has attended the event.

“Most people who really send letters and call are the older generation,” Han said. “I think college students, we have a huge voice especially on campus, so being able to [meet with representatives] this weekend is a good opportunity.”

Ari Goldberg, ONE Campaign’s U.S. spokesman, said the organization aims to eradicate extreme poverty and preventable disease. The Power Summit focuses more specifically on improving life in sub-Saharan African countries with high poverty rates.

ONE has lined up more than 200 meetings with lawmakers for the summit, Goldberg said.

“[Participants] meet political bigwigs from both sides of the aisle, from all states and political persuasions,” Goldberg said. “The way the [Electrify Africa Act] leverages the private sector, it not only is budget-neutral, but it brings money in overtime to the U.S. treasury.”

Gordon Wong, ONE’s college organizing manager who works with half of the ONE chapters at universities across the country, said he has worked closely with Han and other campus leaders to prepare for the summit.

“They could be volunteering for fundraisers, or they could be volunteering their time at a soup kitchen, but they choose to be helping people on the other side of the planet,” Wong said. “Working on the behalf of people and advocating on issues to help people who they might never encounter with in their lifetime is really powerful, is really beautiful.”

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