The Billionaire, The Rock Star and Us

On Monday evening I had the chance to go along to Living Proof, which was hosted by Bill and Melinda Gates, and attended by many of the international development world including DFID Ministers, heads of all major NGO’s and lets not forget ONE co founder Bono. I bumped into my fellow campaigner Jen Crago (Outreach Campaign Coordinator, London for OXFAM). Here is her take on the night:

Occasionally, and I am sure that any seasoned campaigner will sympathise, you feel like all of your efforts have been wasted. This week has been different; notably fantastic re-affirmation from George Osbourne that Britain is on track to deliver its promised 0.7% of GNI as ODA by 2013, and also the launch of ONE’s ‘Living Proof’ with Bill and Melinda Gates at London’s Science Museum on Monday night. The two of us were fortunate enough to be invited to attend.

Bill and Melinda presented a story, full of the charts and graphs that you would naturally expect from the mind behind Microsoft, that we don’t hear often enough; 99% reduction in Polio, 98 million less people going hungry in 2010 than there were last year, 500 million anti-malarial bed nets which are saving 200,000 lives per year. Proof that over the past decade smart aid has achieved real, demonstratable results. They also offered a sincere expression of appreciation to Britain (naming some of our largest NGO’s, including Oxfam) for all of our efforts to end extreme poverty and our leadership on the world stage.

Following the presentation we attended a reception where Jen had the pleasure to chat with Oxfam’s own Duncan Greene, personally thank Andrew Mitchell, our Secretary of State for International Development, for his reassurance of the governments promise to deliver and not make cut backs to spending on aid and development, and also chat with numerous fellow development sector professionals, journalists and economists. Adizah took the opportunity to speak with Bill Gates, shake his hand, and tell him how impressed she is with the work that he and his wife, Melinda, are doing, especially in the eyes of a 21 year old.

Me, Bono and Jen

Together we also had the opportunity to meet a fellow passionate activist, who also happens to be co-founder of advocacy organisation ONE and international rock star extraordinaire, Bono. When learning that the two of us were from Oxfam Bono told us it was ‘fantastic’ and later personally requested to have a photo taken with us.

After the event Adizah felt the whole “wow” factor. She had met and spoken to one of the richest men, and one of the most famous rock stars, in the world. Yet she also realised that there is only so much wealth you can spend in your lifetime, and to choose to give it away, and choose to speak out about injustice in order to help tackle this global issue, is a very great thing.

An extraordinary night for both of us. In our efforts to campaign for justice, and in our celebrity obsessed culture, we don’t often consider that equality goes both ways. Monday’s launch of ‘Living Proof’ highlighted the progress that has been made, but also showed us that the worlds philanthropist’s, development organisations and members of the public are, right now, working together in unison, all of us together in the one effective team and we have so many achievements that we should feel proud of. Yes, there are challenges ahead, but if you too are inspired and have not yet joined our ‘team’ on the adventure, we urge you to do so straight away, after all, it’s FANTASTIC!

Thank you Jen for such a great take on such an inspirational night!

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