Thursday, May 11, 2006

A message from Matt Damon on behalf of the One Campaign

I just returned from a 7 day trip to South Africa and Zambia. What I saw changed my life. I want to tell you about my trip and let you know about billions of dollars in development assistance that is at risk this week.

Each day, I saw the devastating impact of AIDS and extreme poverty, but I also saw the incredible work being done to save lives and give people the tools to provide for themselves. I visited a facility that reduced, by half, the chances of a mother transmitting HIV to their child. I met a 24 year old woman who told me that there was a good chance the anti-retrovirals she was taking would save the her baby's life. The next day, I met a widow who had become self-sufficient thanks to a micro-finance loan. With her new financial freedom, she was not only able to take care of her children, but also began caring for local orphans.

The biggest lesson I took home from the trip was that folks in these countries can turn things around if given the basic resources that we take for granted here every day. That's why I was shocked to learn from the ONE campaign that within the next 2 weeks the U.S. Senate is poised to slash billions of dollars from President Bush's plan to fight AIDS and poverty.

This is an outrage - and it can be stopped.

Please join me in speaking out right now!The second day of the trip, I met children at an orphan care center in Zambia who had HIV\AIDS. Most of them couldn't remember their parents because they died of AIDS when they were only babies. Frederick, an HIV positive father showed me something called a "Memory Book." A scrapbook with pictures and stories about him he was putting together for his son so he would have something to remember him with after they he was gone. About 650,000 children in Zambia are AIDS orphans. They play "Duck, Duck, Goose" and "London Bridge" just like kids around the world, but without help; the problems they face are only going to get much worse. We can't let Congress cut funding that provides critical assistance to kids like these all across Africa.

Senators Mike DeWine (R) and Dianne Feinstein (D) have written a letter to their colleagues in the Senate asking them to stop these devastating cuts in funding for the fight against AIDS and extreme poverty. With just 30 seconds of your time, you can send a quick note to your Senators asking them to support this funding and add their signature to this important letter. The work we are doing on the ONE Campaign will change the world. It already has. Let's keep up the pressure and make sure they know we won't let billions of dollars in cuts to the President's request for the world's poor go unnoticed.

Ask your Senator to support critical development assistance

Matt Damon

P.S. Click here to join communities around the world for the AIDS Candlelight Memorial on May 21. Posted by Picasa

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