Delivering my story from Sudan to Australia

Campaigning for change article written on the 30 Nov 2010

Photo: OxfamAUS

My name is Dok Majok. I came from Sudan where over 80% of the population live in rural areas, depending largely on agriculture and livestock to make a living.

Sudan has suffered many severe droughts, including 1984/5, 1989, 1990, 1997/8 and 2000. Each drought brought crop failure, loss of pastureland and loss of livestock. Whenever the droughts come, agriculture collapses, people migrate to get some water for their livestock and those who stay face conflict over food and water supplies.

I experienced a drought in early 1998 in Bahr al-Ghazal in south western Sudan. There was no rain from April to June and the earth was so dry it was cracking up. Livestock were getting thin and people were searching for water – the hand pumps were non functional.

My friend’s brother, Martin, was caught in the crossfire between rival tribes over control of water resources and he was shot several times. Martin was taken to a clinic in Warrap but his leg injuries were so serious that they were unable to treat him. The damage done by the bullets was so great that he had to have his leg amputated below the knee. The UN system was ready to act but the donor response was slow and somewhere around 2000 people died before relief got to them.

On 10th November 2010, I joined with Oxfam staff members and volunteers in Fremantle to meet Melissa Parke, Federal Member for Fremantle in her office with the assistance of the city of Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt. We arrived there at 8:30am, with some of us dressed up like Robin Hood while others were dressed like Bankers holding bags of money in their hands.

Mayor Brad Pettitt dressed like a banker to promote Oxfam’s campaign for a Robin Hood Tax on financial transactions that would raise money to tackle poverty and climate change. Melissa also joined in to take the photo with us, and I talked to her about the effect of climate change in Sudan.

That Friday I went to an art gallery in Fremantle to meet Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, Melissa Parke and other politician in Fremantle. Kevin was talking about aid, education and development to increasing assistance to the least developed countries.

Also in attendance to this meeting was Isabella Mandungu (originally from Congo), who lived in a Dzaleka refugee camp in Malawi where there was so little rain that they only got one meal a day.

As she says:

“We need to act on climate change because people are starving. If Australia can help, they should try, especially where people are suffering from climate change in Asia and Africa.”

Dok Majok is a volunteer in the WA office of Oxfam Australia

Photo: Kevin Rudd with two volunteers, Dok Majok from Sudan and Praful Aghara from India. Kevin Rudd has sought a briefing on the Robin Hood tax and promised to get back to Oxfam on Australia’s position.