ONE is a global campaign and advocacy organization made up of over 7 million members who share the common goal of ending extreme poverty and preventable diseases, especially in Africa. Its partner organization (RED) collaborates with major international brands to raise top dollars for the fight against AIDS.
Enjoy her experience which she shares with the Ladybrille community. Also revisit or meet Elfonnie in our podcast radio interview.
A couple of weeks ago I received an email from the ONE Campaign but I didn’t think anything of it and decided that I would open it up later in the day. As a ONE Campaign member for the past six years, I have gotten used to receiving almost weekly emails from the organization so I figured this was going to be another campaign email. Well, it wasn’t! It read “You’re one of our most active members – and we want to say thanks for everything that you do. So join us this World AIDS Day for a special night of music as we celebrate just how far we’ve come in the fight against extreme poverty.” What? What? I was beyond elated!
Being invited to join in the celebration of all the amazing achievements of ONE and (RED) was and is a really big deal not just because I was going to finally hear Bono (who by the way is one of my absolute favorite artists) sing live but because the causes which both organizations fight for are issues that are very close to my heart. I believe that if we all commit to the cause, poverty and AIDS can and will be a thing of the past. No one chooses to be poor. No one chooses to be born into extreme poverty. Therefore those of us who are lucky enough to be born into relatively better living conditions must do our best to provide the less privileged with opportunities and resources that empowers them to change their lives.
Accompanied by my husband, Reagan Anusionwu, I was one of 2,500 people who gathered in New York to celebrate 10 years of ONE and (RED) in what was billed as a night of music. The venue was the prestigious Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall, New York. When I got to the event, I was super excited to see that Trevor Noah was hosting. I really love his style of comedy and he didn’t disappoint. It was such an honor to be seated in an auditorium filled with people who share my passion, people who inspire me everyday. From Bono to Bill and Melinda gates and Mo Ibrahim. It was really quite an experience. I was having such a great time until I heard former President Bill Clinton mention Joe Biden. I had no clue I was in the same space with the Vice President of the United States (lol). Why didn’t anyone tell me the Vice President would be coming – maybe I would have worn a dress even more befitting? I digress.
The event tagged “It Seems Impossible Until It’s Done” paid tribute to leaders, activists and partners of ONE and (RED) including Bill and Melinda Gates, Michael R. Bloomberg, Dr. Mo Ibrahim and Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
Musician and humanitarian Sting shared the story and achievements of Nigeria’s former minister of Finance and Ex-World Bank Exec Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, as well as her commitment to the eradication of poverty in Africa, particularly how instrumental she was to Nigeria’s debt forgiveness by the West.
Former President of the United States, Bill Clinton was also there to honor Mo Ibrahim, a Sudanese-British mobile entrepreneur and philanthropist who he described as “one of the most important voices in the continent of Africa.”
It was truly a wonderful evening. There were amazing performances by Bono and The Edge, Hozier, Jessie J, Miley Cyrus, the Choir of the Kimbanguist Symphony Orchestra from Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Stephen Colbert of “The Late Show” was also in attendance and of course, cracked up the attendees with his humorous lines as he honored Bill and Melida Gates for their outstanding humanitatian works. Zimbabwean Actress Danai Gurira, best known for her role as Michonne on The Walking Dead performed an intense and emotional monologue that drew a standing ovation from the audience.
The night honorary speeches were closed off by two special guests from the White House! Joe and Jill Biden were staged to honor former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his philanthropic contributions and commitment to the end of poverty around the world.
The night ended with a performance of “One” by Bono and The Edge who were joined on stage by Jessie J and Miley Cyrus. It was truly an amazing opportunity to be in a room filled with luminaries who are truly committed to making our world a better place for everyone who lives in it.
I had such a wonderful time at the concert and left feeling even more inspired and invigorated to continue to do my best, no matter how little, to make poverty a thing of the past.
-Elfonnie Inokon Anusionwu