(Photo: White House / David Lienemann)
“ONE Moms,” a group of Mom bloggers selected to visit east Africa with the ONE campaign for a week this summer, met with political leaders in the White House recently to discuss foreign aid.
The ten bloggers selected for the trip to Africa and the White House have been using their social networking skills to raise awareness about a humanitarian crisis currently taking place in the Horn of Africa, caused by war, famine and drought.
The ONE Moms selected blog at websites devoted to the concerns of mothers, such as Momsrising.org, babycenter.com and coolmompicks.com. Emily McKhann, who blogs at themotherhood.com, was one of those selected and spoke with The Christian Post about her recent trip to the White House.
In the Roosevelt Room of the White House last week, the ONE Moms spoke for about an hour with Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, USAID Administrator Raj Shah and National Security Council Senior Director Gayle Smith.
Biden spoke to the group about her recent trip to the same area of Africa. Biden and the group “connected around our shared experience of having been in Africa around the same time,” McKhann said. She learned that 30,000 children have died in the Horn of Africa in just the past two months.
McKhann was also surprised learn how much more devastating the current crisis in Africa is compared to the 2010 Haiti earthquake and the 2004 Indonesian tsunami. According to USAID, 13 million people have been affected by the crisis in Africa, compared to three million in Haiti and two million in Indonesia.
With the United States currently struggling with high unemployment, a weak economy and large debt load, many have questioned the necessity of foreign aid. McKhann thinks that foreign aid should be a priority because it is good for national security and international trade, and the United States can make a large difference in people's lives with a small investment.
“Foreign aid makes us safer,” McKhann said, because terrorist organizations can take advantage of regions where there is social unrest and unstable governments. “When we can help people just move up from poverty, just a little, so they can start taking care of their own, that does a lot for our global security.”
If the United States helps African nations out of poverty, it could also develop a mutually beneficial international trade relationship in the future, according to McKhann. South Korea is a good example, she argued. Poverty rates in South Korea used to be higher than they are in Kenya today. Today, South Korea is an important trade partner and President Obama recently signed a new trade agreement with the nation.
“Many people believe that foreign aid is a really big number, but it's actually less than one percent of the budget,” McKhann said. The antiretroviral drugs, which foreign aid helps to purchase, will help prevent women who are HIV-positive and nursing from passing on the disease to their children.
“If they don't have the drug when they're nursing, 25-40 percent of the time their children will get AIDS. If they have the drug, only two percent get AIDS. So, it's an enormous difference in the future health of these countries,” McKhann explained.
The ONE campaign has gained the support of both Republicans, such as Mike Huckabee, and Democrats, such as President Bill Clinton. McKhann said that the ONE Moms did not talk much politics, but she could tell that a “full spectrum of political views” were represented among the women, who came from all across the country. They also have different religious backgrounds and talked about religion “in a very comfortable way.”
“If enough people stand up and say 'this matters,' policy will change. That's what our elected officials are looking to hear,” McKhann said.