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Students Head to Washington D.C. to Lobby Against Poverty

by Montclarion News

Senator Marco Rubio shows his support for ONE.
Photo courtesy of Pauline Chalet

Two Montclair State students joined members of ONE, an organization which fights extreme poverty, in Washington, D.C. earlier this month to lobby with senators and representatives about bills in support of their cause.

Public Health graduate student Pauline Chalet was one of them. She founded a ONE chapter at Montclair State last October, and thus joined the ranks of 7 million members worldwide advocating for the poor, particularly in Sub-Sahara Africa.

Chalet explained that their main goal while in Washington, D.C. was to convince politicians to support the International Affairs Budget, or 150 Account, which allocates less than 1 percent of the federal budget for foreign appropriation to help those in need internationally.

“It’s a little bit at risk right now, so [the percentage] might get lowered, and we can’t really afford that,” explained Chalet. “We can’t do what we do without that budget being stable.”

The main concern with that decrease, according to Chalet, is that it would hamper the Re-enforcing Education Accountability in Development (READ) Act of 2017, a bill which provides education for more than 250 million children and adolescents who otherwise wouldn’t have access to schooling.

“If women don’t receive an education or don’t find a husband, they usually get subjected to human trafficking and dying at a young age from not having education and getting a job,” said Chalet.

She explained that other negative outcomes include increased susceptibility to terrorist organizations, which
prey on the poor and vulnerable by offering them money and gifts, and risk of Ebola and HIV.

“They need an education to further their lives,” she added.

Chalet, along with Montclair State ONE Vice President Michael Shehata, a senior linguistics major, met with Congressman Rodney Felinghuysen and staff members of Sens. Corey Booker and Robert Menendez. While Booker and Menendez were already in support of maintaining the International Affairs Budget, Chalet and Shehata took the opportunity to thank them for their support and talk to them about poverty alleviation, security assistance and agency operations.

“It’s not up to them,” Chalet said of those she met with. “It takes a lot of senators all together to kind of convince their higher-ups to pass and to support the international affairs budget.”

When they’re not lobbying in our nation’s capital, members of the ONE organization at Montclair State hold two “challenges” per semester, during which they write letters to local politicians, urging them to advocate for the cause.
Their next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, April 5 at 2:15 p.m.

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