Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Bono takes on the world's toughest issues
Most of his attention is now focused not so much on fronting U2, but rather fronting another organization he started called DATA -- Debt, Aids, Trade and Africa. In some ways, it is a watchdog organization to hold leaders of the G8, the world's leading industrialized nations, accountable for the promises regarding Africa.
As Bono told me, it really is a case of good news and bad news. Here are a couple of examples. In 2002, only 1 percent of the people in sub-Saharan Africa who needed lifesaving AIDS medications received them; today the number is closer 28 percent. Also, for the first time, debt relief and cancellation are starting to occur and as a result more money and resources can be dedicated to the very poor. Bono likes to focus on the good stories because they remind us that some of these problems are fixable and also in the vital interest of our nation.
To be fair, the United States is doing more than ever before. The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which is supposed to be $15 billion over five years, is the largest commitment, if the dollars all come through. There have also been private endeavors including the Red campaign, which raises money through the sale of red merchandise and which Bono says has produced $25 million in the last quarter for the Global Fund. It is directly helping organizations buy more pills for the sick.
During the interview, Bono was very candid. He said it was hard to fly around on private jets to attend lavish parties and also watch someone die for lack of two pills. He reminded us that "we don't have to ask God for a blessing, but rather just go where the poor and misfortunate are, because God is already there."
I also asked him about Bono fatigue. "I am Bono," he replied "and I'm sick of Bono." Truth is, though, a lot of people aren't. They listen to him because he is passionate, because he has the ear of presidential candidates and prime ministers and well, because he is a rock star. Does Bono's message resonate with you and does he make a difference?
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