The United States is among the richest and most powerful countries in the world, and has historically been its biggest foreign aid donor. Smaller, developing countries with weaker economies, government institutions, and infrastructure rely on the support of the international community — not just US foreign aid — for aid that helps address food insecurity, a lack of infrastructure and health care, and improve education. But in recent years, the US has proposed steep cuts to foreign aid funding.
Approximately 736 million people worldwide live below the extreme poverty line on less than $1.90 a day. And much of foreign aid funding goes to supporting the world’s poorest and most vulnerable, including people living in extreme poverty.
In 2015, the United Nations established 17 Sustainable Development goals to address the issues that contribute to the global poverty in a push to eradicate the problem completely by 2030. And while great strides have been made in the last five years, experts and activists have warned that progress is not happening fast enough.
In order to end extreme poverty on a global scale, robust US foreign aid is required. Foreign aid funding doesn’t just help other countries, it’s also beneficial to the US and helps to improve global health security and cooperation.
Last month, the House passed a bill that increases foreign aid by 4%, or $2.2 billion, which would still bring the total amount at less than 1% of US GDP. However, to get this legislation passed by Congress, the Senate must also approve these numbers.
We asked Global Citizens to write to us telling us why they support a strong US foreign aid budget, so we can share those messages with the Senate Appropriations Committee members. And your response was overwhelming. We received over 15,000 messages that powerfully demonstrated your commitment to a better world for all that will be delivered to members of the foreign relations and appropriations committees.
Here are just a few of the thousands of moving messages we received from Global Citizens across the country advocating on behalf of the world’s most vulnerable, who need support through foreign aid.
1. Allison S., Illinois
“We have a duty to help our fellow humans in this world we all inhabit. They depend on us since their own countries are so impoverished and are unable to help them.”
2. Douglas K., California
“As a returned Peace Corps volunteer, I understand the direct impact that small amounts of money can have to rural and impoverished communities. When we invest in these sorts of communities, we are not only investing in their future but also in their subsequent works they provide for their own communities and communities abroad.”
3. Vanessa F., Arizona
“It is important we take action not only by setting the example in our country, but other countries as well. Everyone should have equal opportunities when it comes to their well-being. By showing other countries we care, we do not only gain more respect but we prove that we are selfless and are what this country really stands for — equal opportunities.”
4. Kiana S., New Jersey
“In my work with Global Citizen and other nonprofit organizations, I’ve learned that the problems of our world are bigger than what impacts us as individuals. The issues that contribute to extreme poverty span communities, countries, and continents. It is what we all have in common. Therefore, we must also be part of the solution.”
5. Mary B., New Mexico
“I’m a teacher in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. As of 2017, New Mexico has a higher poverty rate than the national average (19.7% vs. 13.4%) and 27.2% of our children (those under the age of 18) live below the poverty line, compared to the national average of 18.4%.
“I point these sad statistics out because I encounter poverty and its effects every day in my classroom; I have students who save their lunch every day so younger siblings can eat dinner later at home, I have students with poor hygiene and dirty clothes, and I have students without school supplies, let alone basic necessities. I spend thousands of dollars each year on toiletries, snacks, and school supplies for these kids. And I don’t even teach in a very poor school district!
“I can’t imagine what it’s like in other countries for kids where the poverty rate is lower, unemployment is higher, etc. and they have no one to buy these things for them or support them in this way. Because we can help, the US must continue to supply foreign aid to less fortunate countries. We all do better when we all do better.”
6. Michele T., New York
“There is no stronger way to impact hearts and minds than by helping people and setting the example for others to help. It is imperative that America do what it can to create a climate of good will internationally, not only for the communities that desperately need help, but also for ourselves so that we remember what it is like to be a good citizens of the world.”
7. Fardin R., New York
“As a child of immigrants, I have seen the sacrifices my parents have made so that I can have the freedom and choice to make something of my life. My parents immigrated to the US from Bangladesh, where poverty is a prevalent problem even today. They were able to leave their homes and travel thousands of miles so that their future kids could have access to a broader array of opportunities that even they couldn’t dream for themselves. But, not everyone is able to do that, and so they are stuck in a system where they can’t grow because of something like poverty…
“We are in a position where we can help the people in these countries so that they can grow to stand beside our shoulders because our common goal should always be to create a prosperous life for all the citizens of the world and not just those who were lucky enough to be born into countries where freedom is a birthright.”
8. Lieko D., New York
“As a leading superpower it is our responsibility to help countries in dire need of aid. We must send aid in countries where democracy has died and it's people are being taken advantage of because that is a part of our job as a member of the United Nations...
“By aiding other countries we become closer as a global community, communication can happen more easily and we can try to figure out a way to solve the climate issue at hand together, one of the most pressing issues we face.”
9. Samantha P., United States
“I am writing to you as a person whose family came from nothing. My mother came to America with a dream and left our home in the Philippines for a better life here in the US.
“We are from Malabon near Manila, and our home consisted of walls that had been pieced together from shingles and siding from leftover housing materials. We bathed in a plastic bucket, and rice was a popular meal for any time of day.
“In the US, when I described my memories of back home, people would feel sorry for me and my family. I never understood why until I realized we were considered [to be from] low-level poverty.
“There are many people all around the world who are in worse conditions, who do not even know that there is better out there for them to enjoy and share with their community.
"The US has a great opportunity to impact these people who need help to live. This will create better allies for the US and build better bonds. It will also help the US with the overflow of migrants attempting to escape poverty.”
10. Michelle Y., New York
“We are all on this Earth together and, in the end, only strive to achieve what is best for the continued survival and thriving of humanity as a whole. As a world leader in many aspects, I believe that by supporting international aid, the US will provide and showcase a model that will inspire other countries and kickstart a global endeavor to ensure full human rights for all of us no matter who we are, where we came from, or where we live now.”