You can still set up a lobby meeting with one of your members of Congress as part of the Darfur From Day One Campaign! Although President Obama has appointed a special envoy for Sudan, a lot remains to be done. We need to ensure that President Obama is working as hard as he can to reverse the expulsion of the aid groups, and to complete the Sudan policy review. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to set up a lobby meeting with your member of Congress.
Some chapters have already been lobbying. Haley Langford, a high school student in New York, sent me her impressions from lobbying. Check them out below:
It was a bit intimidating, even just picking up the phone to set the appointment! I remember looking up the number for Representative John Hall’s office and just sitting there, phone in hand, and running over and over again in my head “my name, who I represent, I would like to set up a meeting, my name, who I represent . . .” Finally, once I had my little chant ingrained in my head I pressed the send button and listened to that intimidating little dial tone buzz through. Three minuets, two different assistants, and some jazzy hold music later I had an appointment with Rep. Hall!
To tell you the truth I thought it was a bit anticlimactic. I mean, I was anticipating something going wrong; not having enough information, not being able to find a meeting date, to be turned down, something. Instead I got “Two weeks from today? That sounds fine. Oh yes, Mr. Hall is very interested in your cause. Have a nice day.” Click. I almost asked the assistant “is that it?”
Two weeks later I was standing in Rep. Hall’s small waiting room listening to his assistant explain that Mr. Hall was just finishing up another meeting and would see us soon. Though the room was a bit warm I knew that it was not the heat that was causing my cheeks to flush. Though setting up the appointment was easy the real thing could not possibly be so simple, could it? As I stood there tapping my foot the assistant reappeared from behind a stack of flag boxes and ushered us into Rep. Hall’s office.
We crowded into his little room and sat wherever there was room. He took a seat on the front of his desk and immediately started thanking us for coming in to see him. He explained the importance of being able to hear the concerns of the citizens because “I work for you” and in order to know what you want from me “you have to tell me”. He explained how not enough people take advantage of their power to influence and educate political officials.
Then it was our turn. He asked us what he wanted from us. First we gave him a copy of his DarfurScore and thanked him for all the work he had done for the issue in the past. He was immediately engaged wondering why he had a B instead of an A+. Then we talked a bit about the recent issue concerning the dispelled aid organizations and from there we segued into our ask: “Would you please write a letter to President Obama asking him not to forget about Darfur. Please ask him to do everything in his power to get aid back into Sudan.” Soon we had a promise from him and a lot of smiles plastered on our faces.
Though I was not as calm as I wish I had been, I was stuttering quite a bit, Rep. Hall was still impressed by what I had to say and what we represented. So, was it difficult? Nah! A bit scary but not difficult.