“I want to hold the whole wide world..right here in my open hands.” – from the song ‘Whole Wide World’ by Mindy Gledhill
Last Monday, I was part of a volunteer delegation of 100 men and women – bloggers, pediatricians, nurses, college students, from the US, hand-selected to be educated and advocate for support and protection of funding for global vaccines for a UN Foundation campaign called Shot@Life. Collectively we met with 100 members of Congress in one afternoon to voice our concerns that current estimated cuts in foreign aid could mean that 805,200 fewer vaccines will be available for children in developing nations.
I admit that I was slightly overwhelmed and nervous meeting with my congresspeople and senators and their staff. I’ve never done anything like that before, and no matter how strongly I felt about our cause and message – well, it’s kind of a big deal and I was sure that I would not get my facts right, that I would stumble over my words, and I would forget to ‘make the ask’ to continue their support for Global Health. Also, I was afraid of having spinach in my teeth.
Until five minutes into our first meeting and I realized that as a constituent – I am very welcome in their offices at anytime. They wanted us there. They welcomed us there. They were very supportive – even in this difficult budget time. And they invited us for further discussions.
So remember this – contact your elected officials as they represent you and your voice..and you can use your voice to do very powerful and important things….
Like making sure all of the world’s children get a Shot At Life.
One of my goals for my blog and my social media platforms is to do more social good. Not just for me, but for my kids. We’ve always done a few local activities each year to give back to our communities, but we’ve never taken a global vision for social good as a family…and I know in my heart that now is the right time.
While it’s taken me almost a week to write this post because honestly I could not make the words come together in any legible form. It was just a brain dump of 4000 words, which truly is not exactly effective. So I’ve needed this time to write something that makes sense to me..but mostly for you.
In the meantime I’ve contacted local press to help spread the word about Shot At Life and the importance for all of us to get behind, spread the word, and support funding for this effort. In the 20 minutes since I started this post, 60 children around the world have already died from a preventable disease. Vaccine-preventable diseases claim the lives of 1.7 million children every year, accounting for nearly one quarter of all childhood deaths. Vaccines are one of the most cost-effective ways to save lives, improve health and ensure long-term prosperity. Global polio eradication is in our reach in the next few years. That’s powerful and important. If we support funding now, it will save us billions in future global health care spending.
And I know, I know – with all of the budget discussions and spending cut requirements – some of you have already stopped listening to me. And many Americans think that we spend over 25% of our U.S. budget on foreign aid…but did you know that the U.S. really only spends less than 1% of our annual budget on foreign aid? And immunization funding is just a small part of that.
Here in the U.S, as mothers we have so many choices for our child’s health and easy access to vaccines. There are mothers in many countries who walk and wait days just to have the opportunity to vaccinate their babies against polio or measles. DAYS. Because they want a Shot At Life for their children too. A shot at first steps. A shot at a first birthday. A shot at another night to tuck them in.
And if we must talk about us again…well stopping the spread of disease in foreign countries prevents that disease from being imported to the U.S. and infecting unprotected Americans.
We all have a role to play in this. As mothers, as global citizens – we need to give all children a shot at life. I’ve spent the last few days sharing all of the information with my own kids, and as it turns out, well kids are even better advocates than we are. They see themselves in other children. They feel them. They understand them.
And I know it’s important to raise the next generation of global advocates.
So I asked my kids – what do you think each child should have a shot at? So they wrote down their ideas…and together we made this little video…because all voices, no matter how small, have something very big to say.
I would be honored if you would watch and share and spread the message.
” Maybe I’m just a little girl. A little girl with great big plans.” – Mindy Gledhill