Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Portrait: Sascha Müller, ONE Youth Ambassador and Leader in the Fight Against Extreme Poverty

June 26, 2013

This post originally appeared on the ONE Deutschland blog.

Youth Ambassador  Sascha Müller is an old timer in the business. In 2011 and 2012 he took part in the ONE Youth Ambassador program. Since then the agricultural economist has become an integral part of the ONE family and an inexhaustible fighter against extreme poverty. In this blog article, he explains what he's experienced over the last three years and what motivates him every day:

The first time that I heard about ONE was at a U2 concert in 2009.  I was asked by ONE volunteers if I wanted to join them in the fight against extreme poverty – needless to say that I did.

One year later I was in action as a volunteer to collect signatures at two U2 concerts. It was exciting to talk about development policy with so many people and to convince them to get more involved. That strengthened my wish to get myself better informed and more involved.  And the announcement of the Youth Ambassador program in early 2011 came just in time!

Since then I've been trying to convince people to lend their voices to ONE and join the fight against extreme poverty.  To that end, I've organized a Judo training course under the slogan “Judoka fight extreme poverty” and I've held lectures in schools and universities and arranged some information stands in my home region.

ONE's approach to show people the stories of success from developing countries (without sugarcoating anything) also matches my own credo. People listen more carefully when they see that smart development policy is actually working and is helping people to live healthier lives – and then they are more likely to act!

Of course every now and then there are people that are skeptical. I personally see that as a challenge and it makes me happy when I manage to convince them otherwise.

Next to the campaigning, the lobbying work is another part of my duties as a Youth Ambassador. In the last couple of years, I've met several local, national and European politicians, including Andreas Nahles, Julia Klöckner, Kurt Beck, Peter Bleser and many more. In these meetings, it is all about presenting ONE and our recent campaign and convincing the politicians to actively support us. Furthermore meeting a local politician is a perfect opportunity to get more information about or even receive invitations to numerous events in the region. Many of the events where I have presented on behalf of ONE came about from these meetings.

Of course there are also skeptics among politicians (which sometimes just depends on their party membership) but I've definitely had more positive conversations than negative ones and, in most cases, I've received support from the politicians. That’s why I think that everyone who is committed to a good cause has no reason to be shy and should reach out to his or her local representative.

The main highlights of being a Youth Ambassador are the meetings with other Youth Ambassadors in Berlin. It’s great to get to know many other young and committed people from all over Germany and to talk about development policy with them.  It’s also a good opportunity to swap ideas and brainstorm about potential future campaigns.  The ONE team are also great hosts.  The best experiences are the meetings with the celebrities – I've  already met German Chancellor Angela Merkel, German President Joachim Gauck, Bono, Bill and Melinda Gates and many more. Meeting people in person you normally only see on TV and finding out that they also care as much about development policy as you do - that motivates me over and over again.

All in all I can say that the work as a Youth Ambassador is a lot of fun and I plan to go on working to convince people to no longer close their eyes to these issues in the future.  Recently, I've been planning a development policy walk. I truly hope that my work as a Youth Ambassador will play a part in giving people in developing countries a better life in the future.

I want to thank the ONE team (especially Alicia Blázquez) for the many exciting events that I've had the opportunity to be part of and I am looking forward to more thrilling activities with ONE!

 
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