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what-is-a-true-heroBelieve it or not, reducing global poverty can take less than 20 minutes. Any individual can learn how to fight global poverty by contacting his or her congressional leaders to change the way that foreign policy is currently addressed.

Each state contains two senators and a population-based number of representatives. Simply check out websites such as Congress Merge or The Borgen Project to find the names of congressional leaders in each district.

The first and easiest way to reach your congressional leaders is by phone and email. Senators and Representatives act as the congressional voice of the people in their districts, which means their actions reflect the desires of the citizens.

Calling and emailing congressional leaders about specific issues helps them to better serve the public. Offices record each call or email regarding issues, and then pass the data on to the congressional leader.

Weekly calls and emails significantly increase a bill’s chances of gaining congressional support. A call takes about 30 seconds and an email takes just a few minutes.

You may also wish to take your advocacy a step further by meeting with your congressional leaders in person. Meeting face-to-face with a member of Congress can be intimidating. Not surprisingly, congressional leaders have packed schedules and may be busy, but the task is not impossible.

Most congressional leaders specify their preferred method of contact on their websites. Maintain vigilance with calls, emails or faxes until the Congressional leader agrees to a meeting.

Before meeting with a member of Congress, research him or her. Learn his or her interests, which committees he or she belongs to and his or her stance on previous bills. Form an idea of where the member stands with the bill you are lobbying.

Finally, word of mouth is an excellent technique to raise awareness. Teach your friends, classmates, family members or coworkers how to call and email congress to bring poverty reduction bills to the forefront of congressional leaders’ agendas.

The Borgen Project is currently building support for the following bills:

The Electrify Africa Act: Only 5 percent of sub-Saharan Africans have access to electricity. That means roughly 1.3 billion people still resort to open cook fires for food, warmth and light. The Electrify Africa Act will “encourage African countries to provide first-time access to electricity and power services for at least 50,000,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa by 2020.”

The Food for Peace Reform Act: This act consists of amending the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and reforming the Food for Peace Program to increase funding and more efficiently transport food to disaster-stricken areas.

The Global Food Security Act: One in nine people goes hungry every day. Children make up the majority of this statistic. The Global Food Security Act will “reduce global poverty and hunger, achieve food and nutrition security, promote inclusive, sustainable, agricultural-led economic growth, improve nutritional outcomes, especially for women and children, [and] build resilience among vulnerable populations.”

The Reach Every Mother and Child Act: Hundreds of mothers, infants and toddlers die each day from pregnancy complications and other preventable causes. The Reach Every Mother and Child Act is designed to “implement policies to end preventable maternal, newborn, and child deaths globally” by designing more effective programs in high-risk areas and funding innovative tools and research.

Sarah Prellwitz

Sources: Borgen Project 1, Borgen Project 2, Think Progress, Borgen Project 3, Borgen Project 4, Congress, Congress Merge, PreservationNation
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