I, along with other Illinois members of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), am urging Sen. Durbin and Sen. Duckworth to agree to increase international funding in the upcoming fiscal year 2022. 

International assistance barely makes up 0.5% percent of the federal budget, and we urge Congress to fund international poverty-reducing development and humanitarian programs to alleviate suffering and invest in peace. This assistance will help support maternal and child health, and overall add to efforts to reduce poverty, hunger, and prevent the further spread of COVID. While these issues may seem far from home, we have a moral obligation as global citizens to push for equity both in our local communities and our greater, shared home.

As a daughter of immigrants, whose extended family has been impacted by lack of sufficient resources, infrastructure, and security, it has become easier to recognize the importance of using one’s power and privilege intentionally and responsibly. Working at Dominican University Ministry has also offered me opportunities to meet and hear from people from all walks of life, including some folks who have been displaced by the very issues we hope to address with our senators. While truly dismantling these issues requires policy change and the reform of systems seemingly beyond our control, increased funding will be a small but necessary step to improve living conditions for those who need them. Providing relief is not the end-all, be-all of inequality, but it is a starting point.

Particularly after the year we have all experienced, it has become increasingly evident that vulnerable communities throughout the world have been most impacted by the repercussions of COVID-19. As we all work toward healing together, supporting the health and stability of folks in developing countries by providing proper nutrition, vaccines, and preventing diseases is of critical importance.

Members of CRS across the country are currently planning virtual visits with their local representatives, senators, and other government leaders to push this initiative and advocate for international relief. Robust funding for international assistance will demonstrate dedication to justice, equity, care for creation, and re-establish the U.S. as an influential global leader.

Natalia Prato

River Forest

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