Local woman fights poverty with petition

SHOREHAM — Beatrice Parwatikar has been active in the fight against global poverty and warfare for many years.
The Shoreham resident, who has had a hand in many social justice movements, both global and local, on April 14 delivered a petition for the global grassroots advocacy campaign ONE to Vermont’s two U.S. senators, Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders, at a presentation in Burlington.
The petition, which had more than 30,000 signatures from across the nation, urged politicians to support full funding of the international affairs budget for the upcoming fiscal year. ONE had gathered the signatures in just over two weeks, after it launched the petition on March 28.
Parwatikar said she agreed to deliver the petition, which she and many other Vermonters had signed, because it was just one way to demonstrate the widespread support that her movement has.
“ONE allows people to do something that really makes a difference,” she said. “What’s going to make (the lawmakers) change a bill is the political will — showing that people are for this.”
ONE was formed in 2008 out of a merger of several global poverty advocacy groups in 2008. The organization is led by Bono, frontman for Irish music group U2, and a number of other significant voices in the anti-poverty movement. It bases its efforts on policy and puts pressure on world leaders to continue their commitments to the fight to reduce poverty.
And though Parwatikar is active in many other social justice organizations, up until April she had only signed petitions that ONE had put out. But then she got an email asking her to deliver the signatures on the petition.
“I’m OK with just pushing the button to sign the petition, but it’s a different thing to go to the senator’s office,” she said. “If you can get enough people to ask for specific things, it works.”
So delivering the petitions was something she was only too willing to do. Parwatikar can trace her passion for anti-poverty advocacy back many years, but the most striking image for her, was the sight of a small child five years ago in Tanzania, excited by a toy he had.
The toy was an empty water bottle, and someone had attached wheels so that he could pull it on a string.
“I’ve seen the poverty,” she said. “I know how important this is.”
 Reporter Andrea Suozzo is at [email protected].

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