By Anna Luke
It’s been a life changing week for me. I have been in D.C. with the team from TAF trying to get help for some of the amazing women I work with in the Middle East who have survived being captured by ISIS. While here I have also met Leah Sharibu’s mom, Rebecca, and members of the LEAH Foundation. Leah is a 16-year-old who has been held captive by Boko Haram for almost two years. If the eyes are the window to the soul, Rebecca Sharibu’s eyes said it all, her soul is shattered.
A few years ago I decided to disengage from all things having to do with politics. I was tired of all the fighting and dishonesty on both sides. But that changed this last month. I spend most of my time in the Middle East. I see for myself how government decisions affect our lives as U.S. citizens and also the lives of untold numbers overseas. Policy matters. It has the ability to save lives or destroy them.
Dr. Gloria Puldu with the LEAH Foundation in Nigeria said something profound in one of our meetings with a Congressional representative in D.C., “When your government officials even mentioned, ‘We are watching how you treat the religious minorities,’ the Christians [in Nigeria] had peace for a short time.” I’ve heard it said many times “with great power comes great responsibility.” What our leaders say and do affects change.
My husband and I have had many people thanking us for being on the “front lines” working in refugee camps near war zones. I have had the privilege this week of seeing my brothers and sisters on another equally important front line here in D.C. They have earned the title of advocacy warriors in my book. It is these brothers and sisters on the front lines of policy making that gives people like me an opportunity to be a voice for the “least of these.”
For example, one of the bills I advocated for on Capitol Hill with TAF this week was H. Res. 512 which calls for the global repeal of blasphemy, heresy, and apostasy laws. We also advocated on Capitol Hill and the White House for help for individual families. Many advocacy organizations such as TAF advocate not only for wide-spread policy changes but also for individual cases. As I learned this week, members of the legislative and executive branches of government can help individuals in addition to making domestic and foreign policy changes.
While sitting across the table from another advocacy group in Washington, D.C. they were sharing the difficulty of raising support for advocacy organizations. They described the excitement people feel when they look at Christmas catalogs encouraging them to send a goat to a village. I learned that many people in the U.S. would rather “buy a goat” than donate to an advocacy group because the goat gives people a sense of immediate gratification instead of donating to something that could potentially change the situation that created the need for the goat. Before this week, I too would have only bought the goat.
Please know I’m not anti-goat. I’m not saying, “don’t buy goats.” I am pro-goat. I’ve been known to have my husband pull over to the side of the road just to take my picture with cute baby goats. I have also personally bought a local family here some sheep. I’m just saying, this season when you are planning your end of the year giving will you please consider donating to advocacy groups that have the ability to change the environment that created the need for the goat in the first place. We will even throw in a commemorative picture of me hugging a goat for you to hang on your wall. (Ok, most likely not, but feel free to print your own to feel good about your sponsorship of advocacy groups and know they are beyond grateful for you generosity.)
If you want to give to TAF advocacy efforts, contribute to the “General Fund.”