Grassroots Spotlight: Farhia Ali
Last July, I was making my way across Capitol Hill, attending meetings with Minnesota’s congressional offices. I was nervous. It was my first time in DC, and my first time on the Hill. But then I bumped into a member of Congress in a hallway – and she recognized me.
Other people around us knew Rep. Ilhan Omar from the news, but I knew her as a member of our community at home in Minnesota.
“Hey, Farhia,” she said.
Along with hundreds of other advocates at the RESULTS International Conference, I was in Washington to raise my voice to decision makers on both sides of the aisle. Equipped with red folders filled with policy details and many hours of preparation, we were on a mission. We had come from around the country (and the world) to push Congress to support more equitable housing policies, funding for global health initiatives, and more.
When Rep. Omar said hello, I was delighted. We had met several times back home in Minnesota before she was elected, and we’d formed a kind of bond. At home, I’d worked to develop a relationship with her by attending events and setting up meetings with her office. And that’s what we do at RESULTS regardless of who our representatives are or where they stand politically – we build the relationships that make change possible.
I wasn’t expecting a member of Congress to call me out in the hallway that day, but when it happened, I was ready to talk with her directly about issues I really care about.
And that’s because the whole International Conference was building towards me being able to speak powerfully to my representatives. I’m not someone who likes to speak in public, but my passion to help others and speak up pushed me to attend the conference. Even though I was new to the conference and new to Capitol Hill, I met so many advocates who welcomed me with open arms. I’m very humbled and grateful to be a part of this movement.
We each bring our own unique stories and reasons for becoming an advocate. For me, it’s being from Somalia and witnessing firsthand the struggles that poverty and inequity bring to a community. For you, it might be something different. But when we come together, we create a powerful chorus of voices demanding that Congress take action to end poverty.