My Advocacy Journey with CARE

My Advocacy Journey with CARE

7/28/16

My Advocacy Journey with CARE

In May 2009, I attended my first CARE National Conference in Washington, D.C.  I had been recruited from my church which is University Presbyterian Church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  An email went out asking pastors in our denomination in Central Alabama if any members of their congregations were interested in attending a conference that would focus on education for girls around the world and international violence against women issues as well as poverty.  Having worked in the field of domestic violence and sexual assault prevention for years, I eagerly emailed my pastor and said, “Sign me up!” 

I attended that first conference not knowing what to expect.  I had never heard of CARE.  I attended intense training and workshops during the first day learning about CARE and many of the issues that women and girls in the developing world face such as child marriage, domestic violence, lack of education, lack of maternal health care, and poverty.  I also learned that I could be a part of a movement of change for these women and girls.  My first meeting on Capitol Hill to talk to a congressman’s staff was intimidating to say the least.  For the last 24 hours, every member of our group had learned and practiced what we would say.  The staff person we met with continually repeated, “No…No…No” to each legislative ask that we presented.  I was shocked and discouraged.  Then I thought, “We can only go up from here!”  And, we did.  The rest of the day’s meetings weren’t as discouraging and we’ve had a few small successes over the years.

I attended my eighth CARE National Conference in May 2016.  A couple of weeks after returning from the conference, I received an email that my senator would be signing on to co-sponsor the REACH Every Mother and Child Act.   This was the first time in eight conferences that this senator had signed on to a piece of legislation that I had presented to him on behalf of CARE.  Then on July 6, 2016, congress passed the Global Food Security Act which moved on to the President’s desk for a signature.  In all of the CARE conferences that I have attended, this has been one of the most successful years for Alabama in supporting global humanitarian legislation.  I was thrilled beyond measure about these developments!  In a year when the country is torn apart by politics and violence, we saw our legislators come together to pass legislation that would continue to help poor people around the world. 

I remain hopeful.  If we can make a positive change in a year so rife with conflict then just think how much we can accomplish if we continue to work together.  I intend to continue attending the CARE National Conference each year.  I intend to continue to share information about global poverty with my church and my community.  I intend to continue meeting with my legislators letting them know that Americans care about global humanitarian issues.  I intend to continue in my small way to help CARE deliver lasting change.

Paige Miller

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