Students celebrate bill that provides electricity to 50 million people in Africa

Written by: 
Josh Mason

Students came together to celebrate the United States government enactment of the Electrify Africa Act at the “Power of ONE BBQ” on Friday, March 25. The act will provide electricity to 50 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, according to BYU-Hawaii’s ONE president, Rebecca Vigoren, a junior from Washington studying international cultural studies.

According to ONE’s website, ONE is an international campaigning and advocacy organization focused on ending extreme poverty and preventable disease. The organization has chapters on various campuses throughout the world.

All of the chapters of ONE throughout the country worked together to write and gain support for the bill. “We worked on [the] bill from the last half of 2014 through all of 2015,” said Vigoren. “We wrote over 20,000 letters as members of ONE and we met with our Congress. I met with our senators just three weeks ago and we had over 250 meetings in one day with our senators, just with ONE members from all around the country and even London.”

Vigoren said she sat outside of the library and counseling center to encourage students to sign a petition to take to government leaders. She said they took the names to U.S Representative Tulsi Gabbard, who decided to co-sponsor it. “It got passed through the House, the Senate, and then on February 8, Obama signed it into law.”

“So now 50 million in sub-Saharan Africa will see electricity for the first time because of us,” Vigoren told all the students attending the event, who applauded.

ONE at BYU-Hawaii is not a BYUH student association. Vigoren said, “We won’t ever ask for you money, we just ask for you voice.”

The barbeque was held in the McKay Foyer and was hosted by ONE at BYU-Hawaii. Katie Grayson, a senior from Texas studying international cultural studies, said the event was originally planned to take place at Hukilau beach, “but the [bad] weather wasn’t right for Hukilau so we moved our party to the McKay Center.” Instead of barbequing hot dogs on a grill, members of ONE used a crock pot.

Some students played the card game Apples to Apples while others watched the movie “Space Jam.” They also competed in a Twister tournament. The first place winner, Taco Chiang from Hong Kong, won a $20 gift card to Seven Brothers.

Around 30 students attended the event. Grayson, an intern for ONE this semester, said, “It was hard to tell everyone about the change last minute, but we still had a fair turn out.”