Poverty can be overwhelming to think about, but one TCU student is determined to be an advocate for those who don’t have a voice.
Jamie Laubach is a full-time student at TCU, mother of three-year-old Joel and a member of an organization called One.
One is a global advocacy group that is working to eradicate extreme poverty, particularly in Africa. They have teams in other countries such as Germany, England, South Africa and France just to name a few.
“One pressures governments to do more to fight AIDS and other preventable, treatable diseases in the poorest places in the planet, to empower small-holder farmers, to expand access to energy, and to combat corruption,” according to the One Campaign website.
This March, Laubach and her husband went to Washington D.C. for a four-day trip with One. The first few days consisted of speakers, including a former United States Ambassador to African Union, that helped educate members on different legislations they were trying to pass. Then participants prepared for lobbying day on their final day in DC.
“I lobby our Texas representatives, and other representatives in the U.S., to basically not cut foreign aid,” Laubach said. “It’s less than one percent of the budget, but it’s something that is really easy to get cut because people don’t realize how small of a percentage it really is, and they’re not constituents. If you don’t keep the pressure on your representatives, it’s easy for them to kind of cut that, because we’re basically their voices. You’re voices for the voiceless in a way.”
Laubach met with Texas Sen. John Cornyn’s aide, Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso), who is challenging Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in the fall, Rep. Kay Granger (R-Fort Worth), Rep. Pete Olson (R-Houston).
“It’s crazy just walking around and you go from one place to the next to the next and it just kind of gives you an idea about what it’s like to be a politician working there,” Laubach said. “It’s just a really fast-paced, just constantly going. You’re exhausted by the time you get out.”
Last year, the organization worked to garner support for the Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development Act, or the READ Act. The act helps promote education services for children affected by conflict, and partners with affected countries to help strengthen their education systems to help in long-term sustainability. On September 12, 2017, the act was signed into law.
“The READ act was to help encourage women to read in developing countries because that ties into poverty a lot,” Laubach said. “Women who aren’t able to read or get an education are more likely to be child brides, have children at a young age and be married at a young age. That creates this poverty cycle, and it’s hard to break from that, once it’s started. It’s better to stop it before it starts and be more proactive.”
This year, the group is focusing on the Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development Act, or BUILD Act.
Laubach said that this act would offer low-interest rate loans to try to entice companies and investors into the impoverished nations and allow local people to economically sustain themselves. This would allow traditional aid to be used for basic needs such as medicine and food.
The proposed budget for the 2019 fiscal year brought a cut of nearly 33 percent of foreign aid. This is a drastic cut, Laubach said, as that funding is needed in developing countries.
“One of the things the U.S. provides funding for is anti-viral medicine,” Laubach said. “Mothers with aids can take medicine, that’s really not that expensive, and it keeps our babies from being born with aids, and that’s a huge deal. And we’ve really cut down on the number of people with aids, and that’s one of the great things we’ve done.”
A quote by Bono, a singer for U2 who co-founded One, resonated with Laubach and encouraged her to do more for others.
“Being a mom myself, I was always interested in helping people and just altruistic things,” Laubach said. “But really, when I had him, it really made me want to do more. Give back to people who aren’t in the same kind of situation that I’m in… I have Joel here, and he’s happy and healthy and he has all these dory toys to play with, and he can go see the movie. It’s something you don’t think about… It puts everything into perspective.”
Laubach hopes to pass down this desire to put others first to Joel.
“A selflessness, trying to fight for other people,” Laubach said. “Take care of other people and not be selfish.”