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...is exactly what the 1,000 Make Poverty History ambassadors were today!
By 7:01am the 60 girls sleeping in our Scout Hall were up and preparing for a big day. After 2 days of campaigning 19,800 people had signed our Act to End Poverty.
At 8:15 three busloads left to speak to the students at Damascus College, Trinity College and Ballarat Secondary about what it means to be born into extreme poverty.
By 10:00am the whole crew were on the streets of Ballarat, speaking to businesses about the role they can play in the movement to end extreme poverty. We received amazing support from the Ballarat community - with a huge number of businesses promoting the campaign, and helping us raise awareness of the fact that we have halved extreme poverty in 20 years.
Businesses - both big and small - have a crucial role to play in ending extreme poverty - and it was great to see the Ballarat community taking leadership in this area. I was particularly touched by two stories I heard during our travels yesterday.
One comes from a local business owner who supports a school in Malawi. He is really passionate about giving girls the opportunity to complete primary school, and has been working to fund a specific school in Malawi. Although he’s already working in one area, he still wanted to know what else he could do to help support the Make Poverty History movement.
Now he is also going to use his contacts with local community groups to organise presentations of 1.4 Billion Reasons around Ballarat. He will use his business to promote the event - and thus raise greater awareness about the role we can all play in ending extreme poverty.
Another local business owner has been using their bookshop to provide books and raise money for another school. They have been doing this for many years. A few years ago they discovered that some of the money they had been donating for the schools had to be used to bribe bus drivers and officials to let the money through. I was really inspired by the fact that when this gentleman found this out, he wasn’t deterred - instead, he took action to make sure it didn’t happen again. Corruption is a big issue, and it can be frustrating. I was inspired by our Ballarat friend’s response. It really highlighted to me the onus on us to help prevent corruption, and not let it prevent us from reaching our goals.
And all this before lunch!
We fueled up at a local cafe (making sure we supported the local businesses that were supporting us) then we hit the streets of Bridge Street Mall - literally. Roadtrip Ambassadors did a flashmob in the central business district, freezing and then falling down one by one to represent the number of children who die as a result of extreme poverty every minute. We got newspaper and television coverage - proving that we all have the power to create a paparazzi for poverty.
Finally we hit the after-school hotspots and got several hundred additional signatures, before heading off for dinner and planning for our next day, campaigning in Bendigo.
Our final total for the day was 31,661 signatures!! A massive increase for just one day. Only four days into our 7 day Roadtrip we have less than 9,000 signatures left to reach our 40,000 goal.
We are clearly demonstrating that our government have the public support to make extreme poverty a priority in our budget spending. I’m so excited about the potential of tomorrow. See you in Bendigo.
While you wouldn’t normally expect these two to cross paths, today on the Make Poverty History Roadtrip Gaga and footy have been combined seamlessly.
The Make Poverty History Roadtrip first embraced the Gaga fever yesterday when the Victorian trips launched in the Melbourne CBD to a flashmob choreographed to Paparazzi. The Oaktree Foundation’s CEO Tom O’Connor sent us off with the reminder that there is no paparazzi for extreme poverty - and this can have devastating results.
On Day 2, Gaga made a comeback. As we made our way into Skilled Stadium to talk to Geelong and Swans fans before the game, we started things off with our Poker Face ’inspired chant (I’ll leave that lyrical genius to your imagination). In half an hour, we had over 130 people sign their support for The Act to End Poverty.
We left the stadium with mixed feelings. Although we’d got over a hundred people to sign their name to the Act, we’d lost some of our initial zeal. We’d discovered how hard it is to get the attention of complete strangers (particularly when carrying clipboards). While we were passionate enough about extreme poverty to give up a whole week from our school, university and work diaries - it was hard to transfer that passion to strangers. Standing with clipboard in hand - people avoid you. We’ve all been there - even crossed the street just to avoid that conversation.
But now knowing first hand the difficulty of talking to strangers on the street - makes me realise the importance of those conversations in your own community.
Today, I spoke to two lovely Geelong fans about Make Poverty History and The Act. While we chatted, their two friends (who had minutes earlier told me they didn’t have time to talk) came over and joined the conversation. They actually knew about Make Poverty History, and supported our call for the government to increase foreign aid, but until their friends showed an interest in talking to me, they weren’t interested in why I was there.
To me, this really highlighted the power that we each have in our community to create positive change. Raising issues such as extreme poverty with your friends - even something as simple as the fact that you’ve just taken part in a campaign that you think is really important - can be really powerful.
This week we’re working really hard to create national awareness about our opportunity to halve extreme poverty by 2015 - we hope you’ll help us out by taking the Act to End Poverty into your community.
This Saturday, 1,000 young people set off from around Australia as part of the Make Poverty History Roadtrip. They departed from every capital city, and are currently travelling around regional centres and marginal electorates on their way to Parliament House in Canberra. Global Poverty Project correspondent Renee Carr reports on the amazing progress these young people are making around the nation.
I confess. Despite two years of campaigning - last night was my first electoral forum.
You can understand why - ‘electoral forums’ don’t sound like the most exciting thing, and it certainly wouldn’t rate on my normal Saturday night options. And yet, I’m a convert.
But - I’ve gotten ahead of myself…
The Roadtrip. 7 days, all capital cities, 1,000 young people, 40,000 signatures.
It’s a lot of people, and a lot of noise - for a really important issue. We’re asking our political leaders to renew their commitment to halve extreme poverty by 2015 - by giving more and better foreign aid.
And only one day in - we’re kicking goals. Door to door campaigning yesterday in Torquay we spoke to a hundreds of local residents, who added their names in support of The Act to End Poverty. We’ll be presenting this Act to Parliament to be passed into law when we hit our target of 40,000 signatures.
After Day 1 of the Roadtrip, we’ve already hit 15,000 signatures.
These signatures are a massive win, and a great signal to our leaders that they have the mandate to take action on extreme poverty. But by far the biggest win of the day came at last night’s electoral forum.
Darren Cheeseman MP, and Greens Senate nominee Dr Richard Di Natale made commitments to Roadtrip Ambassadors and Corangamite voters that they will take further steps to ensure Australia gives more and better aid.
Mr Cheeseman stated that “0.5% [foreign aid] is not enough. We need to be doing a lot more.” He also recognised that ‘the government needs to take further steps’, and committed to work within the government to take those further steps. Mr Cheeseman spoke to those in attendance about his personal desire to see Australia’s foreign aid contribution raised to 0.7% by 2015. He also said that “in years to come we will probably need to go beyond the 0.7% of GDP in order to mitigate the costs of climate change on countries that suffer, through no fault of their own”.
Dr Richard Di Natale also committed to more action - stating that the Greens will emphasise the goal of 0.7% in their negotiations with the new government, and move forward the timeline for achieving that goal. He also committed to using his own power in negotiations to do everything he can to make sure he can influence policy on extreme poverty.
Beyond these commitments to increase aid quantity, the forum also highlighted support for increases in aid quality. All parties agreed that our aid effectiveness can and should be improved, and it was great to hear about the difference that Australian aid dollars are having right now. We already knew that Australia’s aid had wiped out polio in the Pacific. But Dr Di Natale added his own personal success story from previous work in India - noting the massive drop in HIV transmission rates which resulted from an aid funded programs.
These changes, and the commitments made by the attendees at yesterday’s forum are not small gains. And they won’t be the last. We were told there is power in our large number. These numbers are particularly attention grabbing when they defy the apathetic and self-interested images of young people too often promoted in the media.
Last night’s forum was inspiring - and the take home message was - you need to continue making sure your representatives know this is a priority. Your advocacy is really important.
After one day on the road, we’re inspired. Inspired by the difference we have made, and by the number of people we know stand with us. You may have seen our flashmob on the news. You may have seen us on the streets. On Thursday you’ll see us at Parliament.
You can add your voice to the chorus of Australians letting the government know that we support action on extreme poverty - and lend the 1.4 billion people who live in extreme poverty your voice.
I was particularly inspired by the results seen in Ethiopia. In 2003 only 5% of households in Ethiopia owned mosquito bed nets. Recognising this as an opportunity to improve national health, in 2004 the Ethiopian government set an ambitious target for all households in high-risk malaria areas to own at least two long-lasting mosquito nets by 2008.
By March 2008 they had exceeded this target. With support from the Global Fund and other donors, 20.5 million bed nets were distributed, achieving 95% coverage in endemic areas. As a result, Ethiopia’s malaria cases dropped by 60%, and the number of children dying from malaria dropped 50% in just two years. 
With only 8 months left to meet the United Nation’s target of delivering effective and affordable protection and treatment to all people at risk of malaria, it’s important to remember how easy it is to make progress on our development goals.
We’re pretty excited about the progress we’ve made. We hope you are too.
Stay tuned for the next installment in our success series next week. To learn more about global health and extreme poverty, click here.
 The Lancet - http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%252810%252960518-1/fulltext
 One Campaign - http://www.one.org/c/us/issuebrief/747/