Why I Care About Water: KerryWe asked some Women of Vision to share why they care about water and are advocating for the Water for the World Act. Here, Kerry McCarter from WOV Greater Seattle shares her answer.
WOV: How did you become involved with Women of Vision?
My name is Kerry McCarter. I learned about Women of Vision at a lunch with my dear friend and mentor who had just returned from speaking at a Women of Vision conference. I told her that I had a heart to see women empower women locally and globally and she told me about her speaking event, and suggested that I check out the Women of Vision website. After our lunch, I immediately went to my car and did some internet research and then sent an email to WOV. Shortly after I had sent the email, I received a call from Christina Bradic. Later that week Christina picked me up at my house and took me to my first WOV meeting. That was almost two years ago. I am currently serving in the Advocacy Chair role at WOV.
WOV: How did you first become engaged in advocacy?
Christina Bradic began to teach me how I could use my voice to advocate for those that have lost their voice. She encouraged me to rally my friends and family to call our local congressional representatives regarding the Trafficking Victims Reauthorization Act. Christina informed me that just ten telephone calls to a representative’s office would make them take note! I found this to be incredibly hopeful and inspiring because it demonstrated to me that our voice matters. We can make a difference for those that have lost their right to be heard.
WOV: Why do you view water as a crucial issue today?
One hot summer day, my toddler was crying in the back of the car because he was thirsty. I found it heartbreaking to have to wait fifteen minutes before I could get him home and give him a drink of water. As I was driving home that day, I recalled the Water for The World Act. It broke my heart as I thought of the 2.5 billion people who do not have adequate sanitation. Hundreds of millions of moms around the world have to choose which child to help keep alive because their family does not have enough resources for everyone.
According to World Vision’s latest statistics, there are 768 million people without safe access to drinking water and waterborne diseases are among the leading killers of children under five. Meanwhile as Americans we have water pouring out of our fountains, we use water freely to wash our cars, and we fill huge swimming pools with water to play in. We all take clean water as a normal part of our lives. I can go freely to my sink and fill a glass with clean water for my son. So many other mothers across the globe do not have this privilege. They often travel many hours by foot in search of dirty water for their kids.
We have resources to solve this problem. Passing the Water for The World Act is a powerful way to empower those who have lost their voice. As I am writing this, I have paused and had the luxury to go over to my kitchen faucet for a glass of water. Often I do not even think about how incredibly fortunate I am to be able to do such a simple task. Because of World Vision’s advocacy efforts, I now believe I have a responsibility to provide my resources and time to assist those that are lacking clean water. I also believe it is not just “their” problem but “our” problem too.
WOV: When did you hear about the Water for the World Act?
Christina Bradic shared information about the Water for The World Act with our Women of Vision Chapter (Greater Seattle). It helped me see that the right legislation can make huge and lasting changes in the lives of others who do not have clean water. This was an “eye opener” for me because I had taken clean water for granted.WOV: What steps have you made to engage in advocacy for this issue?
The first step I took was to join a Women of Vision chapter. I was then able to connect with other like-minded advocates and learn how to use my voice to make a difference for those who have been marginalized. I then began to realize that my voice is important and it can make a difference. I called my senators and local representative for the first time and realized how easy it was―it hardly took any time at all! I learned that a simple phone call is often more effective than emailing. I then learned how to set up and have a meeting with members of Congress.
Additionally, I went to World Vision’s H20:DC conference this year which focused on The Water for the World Act. We had a full day of superb training. The following day we had the opportunity to have three congressional meetings in the House of Representatives. That was an epic day!
WOV: What encouragements or discouragements have you faced along the way?
A challenge is that it can take a great deal of persistence to get a meeting set up with a Congressional representative. After many emails, we got a meeting with Congressman Jim McDermott’s office.
Another challenge is that sometimes when you meet with a representative, they may not immediately support or support at all the topic you are advocating. Also, you often end up meeting with a staff person instead of the actual member of Congress. Although disappointing, the good news is that this is still a powerful opportunity and it often makes a difference.
Christina Bradic and I had a meeting with a staff person for Congressman Jim McDermott at his Seattle office last winter. When we walked through the door to the office, Representative McDermott happened to entering at the same time. Christina immediately engaged him in a conversation. He told us that he was not supposed to be in the office on that day but had delayed returning to the District of Columbia because of snow.
Christina and I then took the opportunity to talk to Congressman McDermott personally about why we believed The Water for The World Act should be passed by Congress. He thanked us for the briefing and told us that he would get back to us about the Act. Shortly after the meeting we received an email from Mr. McDermott‘s assistant thanking us for our persistence in advocating for the Water for the World Act and that Congressman McDermott would be cosponsoring the Bill.
WOV: What encouragement would you give to women who aren’t sure how to begin advocating?
Go to the Women of Vision website and see if there is a local chapter near you. Finding like-minded women helped me.
I’ve also used the World Vision tools found here which helped me to schedule a meeting, gave me talking points and information to leave behind.
Women of Vision is joining World Vision in its goal for the Girls Count Act and the Water for the World Act to pass before the end of the 113th Congress on January 3, 2015. Join us on September 9th to add your voice!