After sixty days of travel, hard work and anticipation, our day on Capitol Hill was finally here. It was the culmination of weeks spent journeying across the country as part of the JCI-Nothing But Nets BzzzTour. Over the last few months, we visited 16 states, held more than 40 in-district meetings in communities around the country and organized 88 JCI chapter meetings. These events were all aimed at fundraising, awareness building and advocacy on behalf of Nothing But Nets and the fight against malaria.
We therefore knew the importance of being advocates for the President’s Malaria Initiative and the Global Fund whilst on the Hill. One of the most exciting parts of being there was the chance to meet with the co-chairs of the Congressional Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases Caucus (NTDs). These Congressmen were working daily to educate other Members and their constituents about the importance of malaria prevention.
Fifteen of us gathered in the morning and headed into the Capitol for a tour. Then we divided into two groups before going to our meetings. As we maneuvered our way through the halls, from building to building and meeting after meeting, we recognized what an incredible experience this was. We shared with the Congressmen and their staff what we had done to raise money and awareness for Nothing But Nets and the fight against malaria, why we felt it was important, and how we can all work together on this grassroots initiative. We were able to host 12 meetings in a day and a half. It was productive, constructive and amazing.
I cannot put into words what a wonderful experience the JCI BzzzTour was for our organization. We had the opportunity to talk with the staff of governmental leaders about the importance of being global active citizens and continuing to work together to combat malaria. Please do not be afraid to contact your Congressmen. Don’t assume that they don’t have time, or that they don’t care about what you care about. Pick up the phone and call your Congressmen and set up a time to meet. Share the importance of PMI and the Global Fund to fight. Share your concerns and discuss with them how you can work together to make this a better world.