As we near the end of 2015, I look back on what we’ve accomplished in 12 months and it’s amazing how much change just one single year can bring.
One year ago, we were still reeling from the impact of Ebola, natural disasters across the world and a decimation of the foreign aid budget. But thanks to the hard work and support of hundreds of thousands of Australians, much has improved since then.
Watch Oxfam’s Australia’s Year in Review:
This year, we stood shoulder to shoulder with the people of Vanuatu as Tropical Cyclone Pam slammed into the island nation, wreaking destruction and throwing lives into chaos. When homes were damaged or destroyed and drinking water stopped flowing, Oxfam was there to help communities recover, and build back stronger.
When an earthquake hit Nepal, Australians showed their compassion and generosity with tens of thousands of people donating to Oxfam’s appeal – our largest since the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004. Almost a quarter of a million people in Nepal have been assisted in the aftermath of the earthquake, thanks to Oxfam’s supporters.
In one year, Oxfam has spoken loudly at two of the most high-profile gatherings of the international community — the G20 summit in Brisbane, and this month’s climate negotiations in Paris. When Australia hosted the G20, Oxfam used the opportunity to ensure that the voices of the world’s most vulnerable communities were heard by the world’s most powerful decision-makers, putting inequality and the international response to Ebola front and centre. I’m just returning now from the Paris climate talks, and have seen firsthand the incredible power of citizens demanding strong action from our leaders.
From across the world, I hear the stories of change from our programs every day. From single mothers in Africa who rejected expectations and became amazing construction workers, to men in the Pacific undergoing personal transformation to find healthy, non-violent relationships with their families. I’ve been inspired by the extraordinary leadership of Aboriginal women, as well as energetic teens in Asia teaching their families and communities how to prepare for disasters.
But while we have done so much in just 12 months, there are new challenges emerging and continuing challenges that are testing us as global citizens.
The conflict in Syria continues to rage, with women, men and children caught up in a civil war that has confounded the international community. And at home, I — like many Australians — have been outraged by the government’s repeated, savage cuts to the foreign aid budget. Our nation’s contribution to lifting millions of people out of poverty is something to be immensely proud of, yet our standing as global citizens is deeply challenged if we pull away from the world when the need is so great.
As we close the book on 2015 and look to the new year ahead, I am keen to see what 2016 has to offer. The passion and commitment of Oxfam’s supporters and its staff, volunteers and partners truly energises me, and I can’t wait to see what we can build and achieve in the next 12 months.
For all of you who have joined Oxfam on this journey, I thank you. I wish you and your family a safe and joyful new year.
Want to learn more about your impact? Download Oxfam’s Annual Report for 2015.