This post originally appeared on the Global Poverty Project blog.
World-changing, if I’m honest, is something that I have always aspired to, but thought was outside the realms of possibility for me as an individual. After all, I am only one of 85,000 people who live on an island in the middle of the Irish Sea. I have done some things such as sponsor a child, sign a petition and live of £1 a day for five days for charity, but could I actually change the world?
However, as a Global Poverty Ambassador with the Global Poverty Project I have seen the truth in the statement from anthropologist Margaret Mead:
‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.’
I have been empowered to understand that grassroots activism is a key component in seeing the world change, in fact, without it world-changing wouldn’t be possible.
As Global Poverty Ambassador on the Isle of Man in 2012 I was not only able to appreciate the great work of individuals and government that had already taken place, but also act as a catalyst for more individuals and key funders to take further action. With the help of other passionate volunteers, we saw the Live Below the Line campaign receive full local media coverage and we ran a campaign to call on the Isle of Man Government to increase their international aid budget in order to work towards the 0.7% target. Recently, we have also seen a landmark commitment being made to the end of polio strategy.
Since 2009 The Rotary Club of Douglas on the Isle of Man has led the way in raising funds for the End Polio Now campaign and in response to this the Isle of Man Government gave a contribution from the international development fund in 2012. But 2013 is an important year for the fight against polio and commitment to funding for the next six years is vital to seeing this disease removed from the world for all time.
Having built relationship with Kevin Kneen, local End Polio Now chair, who recently received the Regional Service Award for a Polio Free World awarded via Rotary International in the USA, as well as the Isle of Man Government International Development Committee, it was apparent that the Isle of Man could play a significant role in the global fight against polio. With the support of the Global Poverty Project it was announced this week that the Isle of Man would become the first 2013 non-traditional donor contributing towards the end of polio strategy by committing £90k over the next three years.
As Justine Greening, the Secretary of State for International Development, highlighted in her comment to The Independent on Sunday on 12th April:
The Isle of Man has now made such an effort and we hope that it encourages other governments, donors and foundations to do the same, particularly in the light of the Global Vaccine Summit this week.
‘Without global eradication the risk of disease always remains. It will take a concerted global effort with real investment from donors, development banks and foundations.’
However, the response of the Isle of Man Government would not have been possible without the committed and thoughtful citizens, whom Kevin Kneen and myself represent. Individuals who have continued to raise their voices and take action on behalf of those still living in extreme poverty. Each of us can change the world; we merely need to consider what we can do and do it, without delay.