According to the World Health Organization, 1125 children die every hour from easily preventable diseases, and the Student Campaign for Child Survival plans to write a letter for each child.
“Campaign 1125: A Letter for Every Child” is the Yale-founded national advocacy organization’s first official lobbying effort. The Student Campaign for Child Survival, or SCCS, plans to present congressmen and senators with 1125 letters from students during its first national conference in March, said Michael Bernstein ’04, of the SCCS national coordinating committee.
The letters will ask lawmakers to support an increase in international aid for child survival programs, SCCS member Aditi Sen ’05 said. Yale’s SCCS chapter plans to contribute 300 of the 1125 collective letters, and thus far Yale students have completed about 150, Bernstein said.
Yale students founded SCCS two years ago, and it became a national organization when representatives from 28 schools around the country attended a National Leadership Conference at Yale in November. About 20 chapters of SCCS will bring letters to the March conference in Washington, D.C., Bernstein said.
“Basically, there’s no real voice for these kids right now,” Sen said. “We’re looking to fill that void.”
According to the SCCS web site, Bush plans to cut over $60 million from child survival programs in 2004. The programs are administered the U.S. Agency for International Development. Despite the proposed cuts, Sen said the SCCS’s goal of a $100 million increase in funding is reasonable.
“It is quite realistic because it is such a small percentage of our budget,” Sen said.
During the four-day Washington, D.C., conference, representatives will take part in media and advocacy training sessions, Sen said. The students will meet with representatives of their respective senators and congressmen, presenting them with the letters on the last day of the conference.
“Our audience is politicians,” SCCS member Simon Stumpf ’06 said. “Lobbying is the way we are going to go about making the changes we want.”
Yale’s chapter of SCCS has previously spoken with Connecticut Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, who was very supportive and interested in the organization’s concerns, Bernstein said.
“If we can get her to be a leader on these issues, we feel that can go a long way toward meeting out goals,” he said.
Yale’s chapter will also meet with representatives of U.S. Senators Joseph Lieberman ’64 and Christopher Dodd. But Sen said scheduling meeting with other representatives has been “a challenge.”
SCCS member Wayne Chang ’04 said he has written three letters to Lieberman, Dodd and DeLauro. He said he is looking forward to the conference because he will finally be able to take part in the lobbying process.
“I’ve never been in that environment before, never done actual advocacy work,” Chang said. “I couldn’t image anything more important to do.”
Diane Tran, a student at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minn., will attend the conference as her chapter’s representative. Since the St. Scholastica chapter is much smaller than the Yale chapter, it plans to contribute 30 letters, Tran said.
“Because everyone can’t go, we’re communicating interest that way,” Tran said. “We are a very interdependent world. I think [child survival] is something to take note of and start spreading awareness about.”