The nation’s capital had its taste of some of the University’s leaders and best earlier this month when Music, Theatre & Dance junior Arian Shaw-Obasogie and LSA junior Robert Dickinson lobbied Congress to pass the Energize Africa Act, which aims to help provide affordable electricity to sub-Saharan Africans.
Shaw-Obasogie and Dickinson were chosen to visit Washington, D.C. for a two-day “Power Trip” after being the top letter senders this summer as part of the ONE Campaign’s Power Project. The Power Project was an initiative run by the ONE Campaign, an international advocacy organization with the goal of eliminating poverty by 2030, to raise nationwide support for the act.
If passed, the act could bring electricity to more than 50 million people in sub-Saharan Africa. Shaw-Obasogie said better access to electricity would help combat the Ebola crisis and improve infrastructure in the region.
Both Shaw-Obasogie and Dickinson promoted the act this summer through the Power Project. Dickinson sent Congress 315 letters and Shaw-Obasogie sent in the second-highest number of responses by recruiting more than 400 letters.
The act was passed in the House of Representatives in May, but has yet to be passed in the Senate. The ONE Campaign is pushing for the Senate to consider the act before the end of the year, or it will need to be reintroduced to Congress.
During their time in Washington, Shaw-Obasogie and Dickinson met with Sens. Carl Levin (D–Mich.) and Debbie Stabenow (D–Mich.). Shaw-Obasogie also met with congressmen from her home state of Florida.
Shaw-Obasogie said attending the D.C. Power Trip was the second step in the push to get the act passed, the first being garnering support this summer.
“These senators are the ones deciding whether this bill is going to pass or not,” Shaw-Obasogie said. “They have the say whether these 50 million people will have electricity or not. By meeting the Senate I really feel like I did contribute.”
Both Shaw-Obasogie and Dickinson became involved in ONE after signing up at Festifall on campus last year. They hope to continue their efforts on campus by maintaining contact with advocates they met in D.C., sending follow-up notes to the senators they met with and continuing to promote letter writing to senators in support of the act.
Back on campus, Shaw-Obasogie is a ONE Campaign campus leader and is working with the ONE office in Washington. She said she hopes to continue advocating the act and other initiatives throughout the semester. She is also currently working on ONE’s Trillion Dollar Scandal campaign, which raises awareness about financial corruption that affects the flow of funding to developing countries.
“If people just took a minute and help to make change with their voices they can really, really make a difference,” Shaw-Obasogie said. “Everyone has a chance to make an impact.”