Voices October 2020
You & Oxfam, tackling poverty together
With support and solidarity from caring people like you, we’ve changed so many people’s lives for the better. Around the world, we are tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, head-on. We’ve joined forces with local partners in 66 countries to give more than 4 million people the water, food, hygiene training and emergency supplies they need to survive the health crisis.
Below, you’ll meet some of the many women, men and children around the globe who are surviving the crisis and thriving, thanks to you. From Bangladesh to Timor-Leste to Mozambique, your donations are having a positive impact across the world, and also here at home. May these tales of survival, triumph and resilience put a smile on your face, and reassure you that we really are all in this together.
Our neighbours in Vanuatu are on the frontlines of the global climate crisis. But thanks to you, women like Yvette are armed with juicy solutions to win the battle.
The World Risk Index ranks Vanuatu as the most vulnerable country in the world to natural disasters, including earthquakes, cyclones and volcanic eruptions. And as sea levels rise, the impact of natural disasters is set to worsen for our Pacific neighbours. Vanuatu’s CO2 emissions are among the world’s lowest.
The ni-Vanuatu people have done so little to cause climate change but, sadly, they are the first to feel its devastating effects. That’s why, with your support, we are helping women like Yvette defend their fragile farming livelihoods from the ravages of climate change.
With a helping hand from our partner Farm Support Association (FSA), Yvette’s farming business is thriving. Since joining FSA, she has learnt several new farming techniques to help her cope with Vanuatu’s increasingly harsh and volatile weather. One solution is as effective as it is sweet: pineapples.
Yvette says, “I have planted off-season pineapples that will be ready for harvest next year.” The pineapples fetch a good price at market. They can be grown year-round and are hardy enough to withstand the changing climate.“If I had not joined FSA, my life would be very hard,” she says.
“In the past, it was hard. When my kids came to me and asked for something that they needed or wanted, I didn’t have anything to give them. I didn’t have any money saved.” Now, Yvette has found sustainable ways to earn a living and lift her family out of poverty. “I manage the income that I receive well,” she says.
I use some for my kids’ school fees and for myself at home. And then I put some away as savings for myself.”
“I help my children and my husband and I — there are 10 of us. Then I help other families as well … so that’s a total of around 21 people that I am supporting with the money.
“We are so happy with all the information that FSA is giving us and the techniques that we are using. I see that it has helped us a lot — so I just want to say thank you.”
Want to join forces with Oxfam Australia to put pressure on governments to end climate damage? Sign our climate justice petition today.
As COVID-19 continues to disrupt our way of life here in Australia, the pandemic is also wreaking untold havoc on many communities around the world. But when disaster strikes, Oxfam acts. And thanks to you, we’re joining forces with local organisations across the globe — from Bolivia to Mozambique to Bangladesh — to stem the spread of the virus in places already besieged by poverty.
Many years of responding to public health emergencies such as cholera and Ebola have taught us that water, sanitation and hygiene are vital in any effort to manage the spread of infection — and COVID-19 is no exception.
In Cox’s Bazar, where more than 855,000 Rohingya live in extremely overcrowded conditions, we’ve stepped up our work on hygiene promotion and scaled up measures like soap distribution and improved toilet facilities to help refugees.
At the camp, we have installed contactless handwashing stations (pictured) to avoid transmission of the virus from touching soap. The soap dispensers are activated by a foot pedal and users must maintain a safe distance while queuing to wash their hands.
(Pictured, above) Laila Begum*, 65, inside her tent during the Covid-19 outbreak and lockdown in the Rohingya refugee Camp, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.
“My family received soaps from Oxfam. We also use toilet that was built by Oxfam,” Laila says. “We are very afraid because everyday we are hearing someone is getting infected by the virus. My husband and I are staying at home. We do not know what is waiting for us.”
As the coronavirus sweeps across the world, we are especially concerned about its impact in communities already afflicted with poverty.
In Yemen, continuing conflict, airstrikes and restrictions on imports have left more than 24 million people — around 80% of the population — without enough food. Years of war and conflict have forced many people to leave their homes in search of safety.We are distributing hygiene kits at camps for internally displaced people in Taiz, Yemen.
The woman pictured (above) is carrying her kit, which contains soap, detergent, mosquito net, sanitary pads, underwear, oral rehydration salts and plastic jerrycans, basin and jug.
With so many schools around the world closing and sending students home to quarantine, new forms of teaching have emerged. For 7th Grade student Benedita (pictured below, right), the family radio has become her favourite teacher since a State of Emergency was declared in Mozambique.
“I was very unhappy when we were sent home without any prospect of returning again for the time being,” Benedita says.
When schools closed in Mozambique, The Ministry of Education swiftly published learning resources online and partnered with a major TV channel to keep students connected to education. But many children live outside the cities in Mozambique and cannot afford TV or internet access, so we partnered with local organisations to set up radio schools for kids like Benedita. In total, 15 local radio stations are involved in the project, which delivers lessons to more than 1 million children.
Every day, Benedita tunes in with her brothers. She says, “I really like the way the teachers explain things and sometimes they use our local language when giving examples.”
Read more and follow updates about our response to the COVID-19 Crisis, which has been made possible thanks to your support.
Minh (pictured above, right) works in a garment factory in Vietnam. It’s grueling work and long hours. And no matter how hard she works, her poverty wages barely cover the cost of essentials for her family.
“I feel tired sometimes, but I keep trying harder every day,” she says. “I sit on a bench [at work] … sitting all day gives me back pain.”
Minh is very proud of her son (pictured above, left). Like every loving mum, she wants the best for him. But it’s hard to make ends meet with her income from the factory.
I’m afraid that I cannot afford his education in the future … If I earn little money, I cannot afford his daily meals and tuition fees.”
Sadly, COVID-19 has made matters worse for the women who make our clothes. When the pandemic hit, brands abruptly cancelled orders and refused to pay for clothes that were already made, pushing many millions of garment workers to the brink of extreme poverty.
But thanks to you, we quickly launched an action calling on big brands to ensure that women like Minh continue to receive their wages.
So far, six brands have either committed to pay for existing orders from garment factories or endorsed a statement from the International Labour Organization demanding action in the garment industry — or both. This means around 350,000 workers (280,000 of them women) will be paid for their work. The flow-on effect to these workers’ families and children is estimated to reach about 1.5 million people.
For women like Minh, this is welcome relief in challenging times.
Will you urge big brands to lift their game? More than 6,000 people have already signed the petition to stand in solidarity with women like Minh.
Changing weather patterns in Timor-Leste make farming a fickle business. So Xisto has switched to raising chickens and making medicine — and the future looks bright.
Before Xisto and his wife Francisca started their new business, times were tough.”The last few years have been a very difficult life,” Xisto says. The increasingly unpredictable weather in Oecusse has left families like Xisto’s struggling to grow enough food to eat and sell.
“Here, in the rainy season, we only eat once a day — at midday,” Xisto explains. A long wait for rains can decimate Xisto’s crops: “Last year, when we planted soya beans, they all died.”
“The dry season is a stressful time for us. We are farmers, so when we are resting, we are always thinking about what the next plan is.”
But 2018 was a major turning point in Xisto’s life: “The NGOs, Oxfam and Maneo, came to support me to learn how to raise chickens to sell and support my life more. He also learnt how to make traditional medicine for animals, using natural ingredients like garlic, ginger and sugar cane.
“Now, if people have a sick animal,” he says, “they bring it to me so that I can give it some medicine and they pay me some money.”
“The NGOs have come and taught me a really good business. I can make medicine now to sell and I can also sell chickens to earn money. My wife takes the chickens to market to sell.”
“I feel much better and very happy because every week we are earning money.”
“The chicken business has been the biggest change in my life. The business is able to help me in emergency times. I can sell eggs for our family needs as well.”
“I am not stressing anymore. I feel like a have a power.” Xisto’s story is just one example of the power of your generosity.
Thank you — this is only possible thanks to supporters like you. You and Oxfam, tackling poverty together.
Mkango Mines didn’t expect anyone or anything to get in their way when they came to Dorothy’s community to mine rare earth minerals. But Dorothy had other ideas.
“There was a river right behind the mountain where the mining activities are taking place now,” Dorothy recalls. “We used to rely on the river for water.”
“Mkango Mine blocked the river and water is no longer flowing towards us as it used to.”
Dorothy and her neighbours didn’t know how to stand up to the mining company — but now they do, thanks to you. We partnered with Centre for Environmental Policy and Advocacy (CEPA) in Malawi to develop a manual that explains Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), a right that allows Indigenous Peoples to give or withhold consent for a project that may affect them or their land.
“CEPA and Oxfam people came into this community and called for a meeting,” Dorothy says. “They explained the FPIC booklets to us.”
“We were told that FPIC means that one should not be forced into doing something that they do not want … it is us who should choose the type of development we would want to see in our communities, without being forced, but in agreement. Posing questions for clarity to understand what would be happening before agreeing to it.”
Once she learnt about her rights, Dorothy found a voice she never knew she had. “I was a person who had no confidence talking to my peers, but that has changed,” she says. Dorothy joined a community group that meets to discuss and negotiate mining projects on their land.
“In the past, the mine authorities were not available and despised us, but today we are partners because we are into FPIC programs and they understand them. This creates room for us to work together as one”
“We are thankful to CEPA and Oxfam for bringing us FPIC … We are now enlightened.”