UNFPA and 34 Million Friends

The other day I wrote about UN conference on population and the unanimous rejection of the US' position against condom use and other family planning. Over the holiday I found out something else from the UN Foundation site:

Earlier this year, President George Bush decided to withhold $34 million appropriated by the U.S. Congress for the UN Population Fund's (UNFPA) work in the developing world.

With a budget of only $270 million worldwide, UNFPA will be hard-pressed to serve women throughout the world without the U.S. contribution. According to UNFPA estimates, the $34 million could prevent 4,700 maternal deaths, 60,000 serious maternal illnesses, as well as more than 77,000 infant and child deaths.

Behold the 34 Million Friends campaign, an attempt to "bridge the funding gap" of $34 million by asking for $1 from 34 million "friends" in the US. In less than five months, the campaign's raised $155,000. That's a lot, but it's hardly $34M.

Funds raised from the "34 Million Friends" campaign will go towards UNFPAs core programme budget, to compensate for the loss of United States support. This includes giving women and men in over 140 developing countries access to quality reproductive health information and services.

I'm donating $100 that I received for Christmas towards the 34 Million Friends campaign. Please spread the word and if you can, join me and contribute. Even the smallest amount — the cost of a latte at Starbuck's — can help make a difference. [via Ellen Goodman and my mom who cut out the article from the paper]