Mercy Corps Founder implores G8 leaders to make poverty history at pre-Summit rally in Scotland

July 2, 2005

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    Photo: Maria Finch/Mercy Corps Photo:

I wear this white wristband because I am part of The ONE Campaign. And my organization, Mercy Corps, is a founding member of The ONE Campaign. I am proud to tell you that Mercy Corps is based in America and here in Edinburgh, Scotland. Today I come to you as a representative of The ONE Campaign to join hands with you, across the Atlantic, to make poverty history.

The ONE Campaign is not well known in the U.K., but Americans are very well aware of Make Poverty History. Together we are members of a great coalition and we are partners in a great cause. The ONE Campaign began with one idea, one conversation, one phone call, one meeting ... and it grew into a grassroots movement that, in the last few months, has signed up more than a million members. At the heart of this campaign is our challenge to the U.S. government to add 1 percent to the federal budget for foreign aid. That amounts to $25 billion, which we believe would make a positive difference in addressing global poverty. We are behind. We need to do much more. But this would be a step in the right direction.

I believe in the power of one! In my 25 years traveling the world with Mercy Corps, I often heard this question: "What can I do? I am just one person." My answer is this: It is true, I am only one person. But I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. If I can do something, I should do something. And if I should do something, I know I will receive the strength, the grace, and the opportunity to do the right thing.

We are humankind. We are one human species. We share one common genetic blueprint. We share one planet. I believe we should see ourselves as members of one human family. And we should do what all good families do - take care of our brothers and sisters. This is why, along with you, the ONE Campaign calls for more and better aid, trade justice, and debt cancellation for more of the poorest nations.

I will never forget how I was moved by the death one little girl in a Sudanese refugee camp. I watched her slip away from hunger and dehydration. She was the same age as my daughter. I was shaken. Weeks later, a spiritual leader told me, "In our tradition it is said that when a child dies, a part of the universe dies with that child." I feel somehow in my heart this is true. In today's world we should never allow even one child to die of poverty.

Nelson Mandela said this in his inauguration as South Africa's first democratically elected President: "We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us. It is in everyone."

Mercy Corps and The ONE Campaign believe in the power of one. And we believe in the power of hope. G8 leaders, please listen! We dare not let this moment of opportunity slip away. History will surely hold us accountable.

From The ONE Campaign, thank you.

Editor's note: Mercy Corps Founder Dan O'Neill delivered this speech before a pre-G8 rally of 225,000 people in Edinburgh, Scotland, on July 2, 2005.