Offering of Letters 08 MICAH CHALLENGE is a global Christian campaign calling for people of faith to speak up for justice and mercy for the world’s poor and protection for the vulnerable. We call on national leaders to do their part to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight internationally-agreed goals to halve extreme poverty by 2015. In September 2000, all 189 member states of the United Nations signed on to the Millennium Development Goals which aim to halve world poverty by 2015. Each target has clear indicators to measure progress and success. The goals, which all have a target date of 2015, are: 1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger 2. Achieve universal primary education 3. Promote gender equality and empower women 4. Reduce child mortality 5. Improve maternal health 6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases 7. Ensure environmental sustainability 8. Develop a global partnership for development WHAT IS AN OFFERING OF LETTERS? WHEN SHOULD WE WRITE THE LETTERS? Just as we offer our money and our time to God, we can Organise your group to do the Offering of Letters also offer our voices on behalf of the voiceless. This is between July and September 2008, so that you have part of our worship, and gives us the opportunity to “do time to collect them all, ﬁll out the response slip and justice and love kindness” by prayerfully writing letters send it all to the Micah Challenge ofﬁce in time for us to to our Prime Minister. We invite churches and Christian deliver them to the Prime Minister in October. groups around Australia to take part in Offering of Letters 08 to declare the injustice of global poverty and WHAT HAPPENS TO THE LETTERS? encourage generous action by our nation. All the letters we receive from around the country will be presented to our federal politicians at Parliament We always aim to be bi-partisan, positive and prayerful House in Canberra as part of Voices for Justice, the when we communicate with MPs. We want to speak national gathering of Micah Challenge. You may choose prophetically about our priorities as a nation to to send a representative from your group to Canberra politicians from all parties. to be part of the event and meet politicians in person! Go to www.micahchallenge.org.au and register before WHY WRITE A LETTER? 1st September to be part of the gathering. Many of the world’s poor have no voice with the powerful decision makers of our world – but your letter can bring To maximize the impact of the letters, the group the concerns of the poor to the attention of our nation’s organiser should also use the Sample Letter to your MP leaders. A hand-written letter is the most effective form to write one letter on behalf of your group to tell your of written advocacy – one politician said that it took just MP about your letters to the Prime Minister. This will three letters on one issue to make her speak up. Imagine encourage the politician who represents you to speak the potential impact of many thousands of letters to our up to other politicians about your concerns. Prime Minister written on behalf of the poor! We can help persuade politicians that many Australians want generous action to address global poverty. Offering of Letters 08 HOW DOES IT WORK? WHAT ARE WE ASKING FOR? You can decide how to plan your Offering of Letters but Increase Overseas Aid to 0.7% it may look like this: In 1970, the world’s rich countries (including Australia) 1. PLAN a date for the Offering of Letters with your promised to increase government aid to poor countries church/group leader. to 0.7% of national income - this is just 70 cents in every $100 dollars of each nation’s annual earnings. This 2. TALK with your group in advance and on the day level of aid is needed to help achieve the Millennium about the issues of global poverty using some of the Development Goals to halve global poverty by 2015. information in this kit. You could use: - an insert or paragraph in your church bulletin or Prime Minister Rudd has announced that Australia’s aid newsletter, or a sign on a noticeboard will increase from the current level of 0.32% to 0.5% of - an announcement, short talk or powerpoint national income by 2015. While this planned increase presentation is welcome, it will still leave Australia 17th of 22 rich - the 3 minute introductory DVD on Micah Challenge countries and falling well short of doing our fair share (order from the Micah Challenge ofﬁce) towards achieving the MDGs. - link the Offering of Letters to projects or people you support overseas Support Child and Maternal Health Ideas for your talk and the powerpoint can be found at Millennium Development Goals 4 & 5 focus on child and www.micahchallenge.org.au maternal health. Every region in the world is off track to achieve these goals – we need to act now. 3. PRAY together for the poorest people in our world - This year around 10 million of the world’s children and ask God to make the message of the letters under the age of ﬁve will die, almost all from effective. You may like to use the sample prayer in preventable causes. this kit. - Over 500,000 women will die from treatable complications in pregnancy or childbirth. 99% of 4. WRITE personal letters together in the coffee time these deaths will occur in poor countries. or during the service. Children can write letters or - One in twelve children in Cambodia dies before draw pictures in their kids’ time and youth can write their ﬁfth birthday. letters in youth group after a special poverty event or ﬁlm showing. Have copies of the Sample Letter to - The rate of deaths amongst women in childbirth is the Prime Minister ready for people to use as a guide, 100 times greater in East Timor than in Australia. or if you have a data projector, project it on a wall where everyone can see (this is in the powerpoint To do our fair share towards the MDGs on child and presentation available at www.micahchallenge. maternal health, Australia should contribute $1 billion org.au) Have pens and writing paper at tables with per year on basic health care by 2010. We currently give instructions, ready for people to use. only one third of this amount. If Australia did its fair share we could save the lives of an estimated 75,000 children 5. COLLECT, COUNT and POST all the letters with the and 15,000 pregnant women every year. completed feedback form to Micah Challenge before 3rd October 2008. We call on the Australian Government to take the following steps: 6. TELL YOUR MP how many letters your group wrote - Make a timetabled commitment to increase and request a response using the Sample Letter to Australia’s overseas aid to 0.7% of GNI by 2015. your MP in this kit. To ﬁnd out who your MP is (where - Increase aid for basic health to $1 billion by the your group is located) and their electorate address, 2010-2011 budget see http://apps.aec.gov.au/esearch You may like to include a photo of your group with their letters. Offering of Letters 08 SAMPLE LETTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER (Date) Dear Prime Minister, I am writing because….(write a sentence or two about why you care about poverty) Thank you for your commitment to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and to increasing Australia’s overseas aid to 0.5% of our national income by 2015. Thank you also for your personal commitment to ﬁghting global poverty, a tragedy you have called “the enemy of all humankind.” Please commit to meeting the internationally-agreed level of overseas aid of 0.7% of national income by 2015. All developed countries need to meet this commitment if we want to see global poverty halved by 2015. Around the world, nearly 10 million children die each year before their ﬁfth birthday. Half a million mothers die each year in child birth in poor countries. No region is on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals to reduce child and maternal mortality. I therefore ask that your Government increase aid for basic child and maternal health to $1 billion annually by the 2010-2011 budget. This is our fair share to the cost of meeting these goals. If Australia did its fair share we could save the lives of an estimated 75,000 children and 15,000 mothers every year. Please help Australia do justice and love mercy. Yours sincerely and prayerfully, (Your name and address) WANT MORE INFORMATION? For information, see the Offering of Letters section of the Micah Challenge website: www.micahchallenge.org.au And for other good resources on these issues see: Make Poverty History www.makepovertyhistory.com.au and The Millennium Campaign www.endpoverty2015.org SAMPLE LETTER TO YOUR MP (for the group organiser to write) (Date) (Address of your MP) Dear , (Name of your group) is a church/Christian group in your electorate that is concerned about global poverty as an important part of our faith. Along with churches and Christian groups around Australia, we have written (number) letters to the Prime Minister to encourage him to ensure Australia plays its part in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to halve global poverty by 2015. One in twelve children in Cambodia dies before their ﬁfth birthday. The rate of deaths amongst women in childbirth is one hundred times greater in East Timor than in Australia. If Australia did its fair share we could save the lives of an estimated 75,000 children and 15,000 mothers in child birth every year. We ask that the Government commit to meeting the UN agreed level of overseas development assistance of 0.7% of GNI by 2015. We also ask the Government to increase aid for basic and child and maternal health in Australia’s aid program to $1 billion annually by the 2010-2011 budget. We would appreciate if you would talk to ____________________(Bob McMullan if your MP belongs to the Government or Senator Marise Payne if your MP belongs to the Opposition) about our concerns. We would also appreciate if you could inform us of your response to these issues. We look forward to hearing from you. Yours sincerely, (Your name and address) Offering of Letters 08 PRAYER You may choose to use this prayer with your group before or after writing the letters, or write your own. All: Lord, we come to pour out our grief at the suffering in our world – the physical pain, spiritual poverty, political oppression and economic injustice. Instead of despairing when we read the news, we want to be making the news; changing the world rather than accepting the status quo. Leader: As Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth.... You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.” All: God, we can’t thank you enough for lighting up the world when you sent your son to us. Now shine through us with the power of your spirit. Motivate us to become the answer to the prayers on our lips. Fill us, we humbly pray with power, persistence and wisdom so that we can be a prophetic voice in our land. Leader: “Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house... In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your father in heaven.” All: Help our offering of letters shine your light of compassion and justice into the ofﬁces of our political leaders. Prompt them to respond to our call on behalf of the poor. Leader: Jesus also says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be ﬁlled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” All: Dear God, remind us to hunger for your righteousness and mercy so that through us you can change the lives of people near us and around the world through our prayers, words and actions. Amen FEEDBACK FORM Complete this slip and send it with completed letters for the Prime Minister before 3rd October 2008 to: Micah Challenge, Locked Bag 122, Frenchs Forest NSW 2086 Name of Church/school/group:____________________________________________________________________ Contact person:_________________________________________________________________________________ Phone:______________________Email:_____________________________________________________________ Address:_______________________________________________________________________________________ Federal electorate (where the group is located):_______________________________________________________ Member of Parliament:___________________________________________________________________________ Number of letters written to the Prime Minister:_______________________________________________________ I sent a letter to the MP representing our church on _______________________(date) Please add me to the list to receive Micah Challenge monthly E-news: Yes/No For more information please contact the Micah Challenge ofﬁce at firstname.lastname@example.org or (02) 9453 1586.