At last night’s “Thirsty Thursday” event at the University of Michigan Museum of Art, about 50 students attended a free concert hosted by the University’s chapter of the ONE Campaign, an international nonpartisan advocacy organization working to fight poverty and disease in Africa.
Each year, the ONE Campaign selects a different global issue to focus its advocacy efforts on. In previous years, the organization has focused on HIV/AIDS, maternal health and education. This year’s event, which was organized around World Water Day, was held to raise awareness about water accessibility and sanitation conditions in developing nations.
Public Policy senior Meredith Horowski, the former president of the University’s ONE chapter, said the event was held to inform attendees on the various ways they can solicit change.
“The ONE Campaign is all about advocacy,” Horowski said. “We’re not a charity; we don’t ask people to donate money, so it’s all about the really simple actions that you can take to hold our government leaders accountable to good development policy.”
Horowski said her passion for the ONE Campaign was solidified when she traveled to Rwanda in 2010 and saw the impact of the campaign firsthand.
“I saw on the ground in Rwanda that the policies that the U.S. is implementing in terms of international development really are effective,” she said. “These programs that we fund are crucial in saving lives across the world.”
The event included performances by Match by Match and Chaser — two bands composed of University students — as well as brief sets from the University a cappella groups Dicks and Janes and Gimble. Vertika Srivastava, a member of Michigan Sahana, also performed a solo dance number, and the Michigan Slam Poetry Team made an appearance at the end of the event.
During the performances, pictures of impoverished conditions and global water sanitation facts and statistics were projected on a screen. LSA junior Lesley Kucharski and other members of the University’s chapter took time between sets to further educate attendees on the issue.
“We’re here to tell you guys there’s opportunity out there. Progress is being made,” Kucharski said. “We’re here to try and make (government officials) do what they say they’re going to do.”
After the performances, members of the ONE Campaign passed out stationary and helped audience members compose letters to President Barack Obama asking him to take action at the next G8 Summit, a conference for world leaders to discuss international affairs.
LSA senior Mary Kate Cartmill, the campus leader of ONE, said she was pleased with the event’s turnout.
“As long as we’re reaching people and we’re having them write their letters and getting them engaged, it’s really exciting,” Cartmill said. “We had really great performers this year … I think we had a good mix of Ann Arbor bands and then student performers.”
LSA sophomore Ryan Krasnoo, a member of the University’s Slam Poetry Team, said he agreed to perform at the event because he is a strong believer in the mission of the ONE Campaign.
“It’s a great cause. I actually performed last year at ONE’s event,” Krasnoo said. “Any time I can help out, I’m always happy to contribute.”
Jessica Branski, an LSA sophomore, said she’s been involved with ONE since high school and believes the cause is something college students can easily stand behind.
“You can do so much with your voice, and you don’t have to put any money in it,” Branski said. “College students can do a lot to affect change in the world … What’s important to us is what’s going to be important to the world later.”