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Adding One More Voice to ONE

BU’s antipoverty campaign asks volunteers to speak out

The ONE Campaign’s supporters wear white wristbands to show their commitment to the antipoverty cause. Photo courtesy of One.org

There are plenty of ways for Boston University students to contribute their time, skills, and energy to people in need, ranging from the Wizards tutoring program at the Community Service Center to the Save Darfur Coalition. This semester, the ONE Campaign at BU is asking students to offer up one thing more: their voices.

“There are so many issues and causes that people care about,” says Prachi Patel (COM’07), president of the ONE Campaign at BU. “The ONE Campaign is great because you can lend your support to not just one cause.”

The ONE Campaign, founded in 2005 by 11 of America’s domestic and foreign aid groups, takes an unconventional approach to fighting AIDS and extreme poverty: instead of asking its supporters for contributions, it asks them to petition the U.S. government to designate an additional one percent of the federal budget for global aid. The group currently has 70 nonprofit partners, and more than two million people have signed the ONE Declaration asking for more antipoverty funding.

Patel got involved with the Boston chapter of the ONE Campaign last year, intrigued by the fact that the campaign’s focus was awareness, not fundraising. She started the BU chapter of ONE this semester, partnering with the Save Darfur Coalition to sponsor a showing of the movie Hotel Rwanda and working with the community service group Project Hope to sponsor events for World AIDS Day on December 1. The BU group has 40 active members so far and more than 300 online members, Patel says; she believes that the campaign’s approach to international issues makes it an appealing organization for all kinds of volunteers.

“The thing about ONE is that it’s broad,” she says. “It gives a lot of scope for how much you can give back.”

The ONE Campaign at BU, which Patel believes is one of the first college chapters in the country, focuses on new issues related to poverty each semester. This spring, the group will direct its efforts toward raising hunger awareness by working with Oxfam America on a hunger banquet, where people are assigned a global income level and then served a meal that reflects that status. ONE is also planning to work with the group Invisible Children, which helps rescue Ugandan children who are abducted from their homes to serve in rebel militia groups, and BU’s Amnesty International chapter.

“People here are more and more interested in helping out and making a difference,” Patel says. “I think they’re looking for an outlet, and this is how you can help.”

Jessica Ullian can be reached at jullian@bu.edu.