Dec 13, 2012

Dec Will you grant three wishes this Christmas?

13
2012

Christmas is the time of giving but when times are tough it can be hard to see past the problems at home.

Yet people across the island of Ireland are renowned for their generosity. Despite difficult economic circumstances, our supporters in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland appreciate the struggle to survive faced by millions overseas.

In fact, Ireland ranked second place in last year’s World Giving Index – up from third spot in 2010.

 

Whatever your wishes this Christmas and your hopes for the New Year, there are many around the world who have much less to look forward to in 2013. People whose wishes – and needs – will be much more basic. 
 
Mothers, for instance, caught up in a food crisis who wish they could ensure their children don’t go hungry. Or for clean water not contaminated with deadly diseases from the nearby stagnant pool. Or for a future that offers hope – a chance to provide for their family and educate their children.
 
 
TOP-LEFT: “Oxfam has really helped us. I never imagined that I’d be able to do all this.”
Rubenia Santos (pictured to the left), a female farmer in Honduras who has been taught how to grow crops on a cyclical basis so she always has enough to eat and sell at the local market. Gary Henry/Oxfam
 
TOP-RIGHT:
People gather at a water point in South Sudan. Hygiene promoter Olivia Awaya says: “We suffered a lot when we used to walk to get water. It was far and the water brought lots of disease. Now we can get clean water, fewer people are getting sick.” Caroline Gluck/Oxfam
 
BOTTOM:
Bayush Kassan (left) and Belaynesh Hussen are part of an Oxfam-supported cooperative of 31 women in Ethiopia who collectively own land on which they farm vegetables. They’ve turned their seed crops into seed oil thanks to a new seed-crushing machine. Bayush explains: “We used to harvest, carry and sell 5kgs of seeds for around 6birr (29c/23p). Now we could get twice as much.” Tom Pietrasik/Oxfam
 
This Christmas, we’d like to ask for your help in granting the three things most of us are able to take for granted this Christmas. 
 

Food

More than 18 million people in West Africa are facing desperate food shortages this Christmas.

Water

On the 25th December, 4,000 children will die of diarrhoea caused by dirty water.

A future

Today, 72 million children in the developing world are going without a basic education.

 

Together, we can provide clean water for children to drink, help hungry families grow the food they’re desperate for and offer hardworking people the change of a future free from the stranglehold of poverty.
 
If you’d like to help grant the three wishes of food, water and a future this Christmas, you can donate now, buy an Oxfam Unwrapped gift  or bring the clothes and other items you no longer need to your local Oxfam shop.
 
Dec 5, 2012

Dec Oxfam Unwrapped – gifts that you’ll just love to give this Christmas

5
2012

The tree is up, the letters to Santa sent and the mince pies are in the oven, now it’s just those presents to sort out…

 

This Saturday marks the traditional Christmas shopping day of December 8th and whether you like to join the crowds in town, shop online or by telephone, it’s never been easier to pick up an Oxfam Unwrapped gift this festive season –simply call into one of our 51 shops across the island, visit our online store www.oxfamireland.org or phone 1850 30 40 55 (Republic of Ireland) or 0800 0 30 40 55 (Northern Ireland).

It only takes a moment to buy an Oxfam Unwrapped gift, but it can change a life forever.

We’ve asked some of our furry friends to explain why they should be picked as Oxfam Unwrapped gifts this Christmas (warning: this video may contain cute animals).

All our Oxfam Unwrapped animals are locally sourced in the countries where they’re needed to ensure they don’t travel long distances to get to those who receive them. They are also vaccinated and given to families who get training on how to best care for them. In fact, we source every gift locally wherever possible to help boost the economy in communities affected by poverty.

Along with our incredible animals including A Clutch of Chicks (€13/£10)A Donkey (€47/£38) or a Piglet (€35/£28), we have lots of other gifts to suit everyone this Christmas, from DIY fanatics (they can Fix a Well €28/£23 or set up a Solar Panel €32/£26) to teachers (School Books €18/£15 and Educate a Girl €30/£24) and foodies (Feed a Family €29/£23).
 
Whether you’re looking for a Kris Kindle present for under €10/£10 (Mosquito Net €5/£4 and Drought-resistant Seeds €7/£6) or are raising money together with your school, group, company or club to buy a large-scale gift like Water for a Community (€1,000/£809), the result is the same – lives transformed for the better.
 
You can also help the youngest member of the family when emergency strikes by providing Breakfast for a Child (€10/£8) for orphans in South Africa, or support the training of nurses and midwives in Ghana with the Care for Mums (€20/£16) gift to ensure thousands of mums and mums-to-be get the help, expertise and support they deserve.
 
Some of the brand new presents this Christmas include the Girl Power (€14/£11) gift funding projects empowering women to stand up for their rights and tackle domestic violence (also part our Ending Poverty Starts with Women campaign), Literacy Classes (€49/£40) that unlock life-changing opportunities by training adult literacy teachers and A Small Loan (€70/£57) that help start-up businesses get the investment they need to create new job opportunities.
 
 
TOP: Volunteers and customers gather in our Navan shop to celebrate the launch of the Oxfam Unwrapped Christmas gift range https://www.oxfamireland.org/unwrapped. Photo: Ciarán Maguire. ABOVE LEFT: Amber Henderson (8) from Bangor showcases our Donkey https://www.oxfamireland.org/unwrapped/donkey and Clutch of Chicks gifts https://www.oxfamireland.org/unwrapped/chicks at Belfast City Hall. Photo: PressEye Photography. ABOVE RIGHT: Dublin mum Rosemary Lafferty with her children Declan (10) and Ailbhe (12), all Oxfam Unwrapped supporters. Rosemary says: “When a friend or relative opens an Unwrapped gift, you’re guaranteed a smile and often a big hug too.”
 
When you purchase an Oxfam Unwrapped gift, your donation will fund projects that your gift represents in countries like Malawi, Zimbabwe, the Democratic of Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda and South Africa, helping communities to build a brighter future. Find out more about Oxfam Unwrapped here.
 
And you’ll also receive a beautiful 2013 Oxfam Ireland calendar with every purchase to remind you every day of how you’re making a difference. 
 
Our 51 shops across the island of Ireland are busy hosting events to spread some festive cheer and showcase our Oxfam Unwrapped gift range, which is available in every store. Drop in, we’d love to see you!
 
For gift card delivery before Christmas, order by Monday December 17th if buying gifts using the form attached to the Oxfam Unwrapped catalogue or by Wednesday December 19th if you’re buying online www.oxfamireland.org/unwrapped or by phone (RoI: 1850 30 40 55 / NI: 0800 0 30 40 55).
 
And if you find yourself stuck at the last minute on Christmas Eve or receive an unexpected present during the festive season, you can buy an Oxfam Unwrapped ecard in a super fast time at our easy-to-use online store www.oxfamireland.org/unwrapped.
 
Since we launched Oxfam Unwrapped nine years ago, people north and south have truly embraced the spirit of Christmas by giving more than 140,000 life-changing gifts and raising over €4 million/£3 million. This has helped to improve the lives of more than 500,000 people affected by poverty and injustice around the world.
 
Change a life this Christmas. Thank you.

 

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Nov 23, 2012

Nov Violent clashes in the Democratic Republic of Congo

23
2012

140,000 people have fled violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo since mid-November, with over half a million displaced since April.

This week, armed groups captured the strategically important city of Goma, pushing a conflict that has killed 5.4 million people since 2008, into a new and dangerous stage.

Above (top): Oliva Noalla, 6, with her younger  sister on her back, Mugunga camp. Above (left): People have built shelters out of leaves and materials they have managed to find nearby. Above (right): Forced child recruitment is on the increase across the east of the country. Above: Oxfam supplying water in Kanyaruchina.

Violent clashes between armed groups and government forces has already led to a widespread collapse of state control in large areas of the east, where the humanitarian situation is deteriorating rapidly.

Power and water is gone in the main city of Goma, which means people are taking water from the lake instead of the municipal system. There are large fears of a cholera outbreak.

Meanwhile, forced child recruitment is on the increase across the east.  Annie, 22, questions if her children will be next.

“Although they are young, I know that child recruitment is happening and I would not put it past the rebel groups to take my tiny children. I know what they are capable of” she says.

She fled her own home in August with her husband and two children and came to Goma to escape the violence in her own area.

“We have lived in a state of fear for months” she says.

She says she lives each day tormented by thoughts of what might happen to her family.

“My children know something is wrong. They react badly to things which they did not do when we were at home. Is it a surprise? They sleep without a roof over their head and eat one meal a day.”

Oxfam, which has been in the region for many years providing clean water and sanitation to tens of thousands of people, is on the ground assessing the needs of people

However the job is made difficult not just by the current security situation.

In 2002 Mount Mount Nyiragongo erupted and covered the city of Goma and its suburbs with volcanic rock. The hard terrain makes it extremely difficult to dig for water and to dig latrines. This means Oxfam has to truck water to meet the urgent needs of thousands of people.

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Nov 22, 2012

Nov Linking together for 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence

22
2012

“My husband was very abusive towards me and my children.”

There are many facing the same situation as Emilia Chuma. One in three women worldwide has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her life. 
 
In Tanzania, where Emilia lives, violence against women is widespread. One study found that over half of women are beaten regularly by their partners. Why? Because there is a long-standing belief among men and women that such behaviour is acceptable. In 2009, a survey of women in Tanzania found that 56% agreed it was important for a man to “show his wife who was the boss” and 61% believed that a “good wife” obeys her husband regardless of the situation. 
 
But these attitudes are changing. The Oxfam-supported We Can! campaign has seen more 350,000 men and women across Tanzania pledge to become change-makers in their communities, promising to recruit at least 10 others who sign the same pledge to stand up to domestic violence. 
 
 
TOP LEFT: Emiliani Dionis in Mgeta village, Tanzania. He used to beat his wife and five children but is now a change-maker thanks to the Oxfam-supported We Can! campaign. TOP CENTRE: Change-maker Emilia Chuma in Mgeta says the We Can! campaign convinced her husband to end his violence towards her and the children. TOP RIGHT and ABOVE: People in Mgeta watch a dramatic performance that shows the impact of violence against women on the local communities. Events like this one encourage people to change the attitudes that permit domestic violence. All photos by Barry McCall/Oxfam
 
This unique approach asks people to acknowledge that violence is happening within their midst, to commit to not tolerating violence in their personal lives and to take proactive steps to encourage others in their communities to pledge to follow their examples. 
 
“I became a change-maker because I wanted to change my life,” explains Emilia who spoke to us in her village of Mgeta. “The Morogoro Paralegal Centre [an Oxfam partner] showed me the change-maker form and I signed it.
 
“I convinced my husband to change. Now we have a great relationship and our children are much happier.”
 
Emilia was one of the inspirational women met by our ambassador Sharon Corr who travelled to Tanzania earlier this year. See her meeting Emilia and others empowered by the We Can! campaign in our video below.
 

 

We are joining with thousands of individuals and organisations worldwide to mark the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence (November 25th – December 10th).

 
The international 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence campaign calling for the elimination of all forms of violence against women.
 
You can show solidarity with the men and women taking action around the world by showcasing our specially designed paper chains which highlight the devastating extent of violence against women and girls. Displayed in villages, towns and cities throughout Ireland and Northern Ireland, join us to demand that the chain of violence is broken once and for all.
 
Get involved by printing off the one-in-three paper chain and hanging it at home, in work or school, in your car or a prominent place in your community.  Email us a picture at campaigns@oxfamireland.org and we’ll share it with fellow activists in our Facebook group.
 
One-by-one, we can make change happen. Download our paper chain today.

 

Nov 12, 2012

Nov Sharon Corr travels to Tanzania with us

12
2012

As part of our Ending Poverty Starts with Women campaign, our ambassador Sharon Corr and acclaimed photographer Barry McCall travelled to Tanzania to see how we’re helping women to stand up for their rights. Oxfam's own Communications and Marketing Executive Clare Quinlan travelled with Sharon to see how your donations are making a difference.  Here's her account of the trip.

A chorus of singers welcomed us as we arrived. Their voices filled the air, creating a sense of celebration and excitement.

The reason for our visit to Lyenge village – part of a week-long trip to Tanzania – was to meet Ester Jerome Mtegule and other inspirational women who are shaping the future of their communities.

TOP LEFT: Our ambassador Sharon Corr meets Female Food Heroes winner Ester Jerome Mtegule at her home in Lyenge village. TOP RIGHT: Rice farmer Halima Shida shares a moment with Sharon Corr outside her home in Kimamba village. ABOVE: Sharon Corr meets last year’s finalists (from left to right) Mwandiwe Makame, Anna Oloshiro and the winner Ester Jerome Mtegule, along with Oxfam Ireland’s Monica Gorman, at the launch of the 2012 Female Food Heroes competition. All photos by Barry McCall/Oxfam

Ester was the winner of our Female Food Heroes competition in 2011. It reached around 25 million Tanzanians – more than half the country’s population – through television, radio and newspapers. This year’s contest was being launched on her home turf, and Sharon was invited to Lyenge as the guest of honour.

The reason why Female Food Heroes is so important is because it celebrates the role played by women who farm and produce food.

Women are at the heart of Oxfam’s work – they make up 43 per cent of the agricultural workforce in the countries where we work, but often face discrimination when trying to get ownership of the land they farm.

Our Ending Poverty Starts with Women campaign is calling for better support for women food producers so that they can become leaders in their own communities.

Because of widespread media coverage in Tanzania, the Female Food Heroes competition brought important issues to national attention.

Ester and her fellow finalists – whittled down to 10 from 7,000 entrants by a panel of expert judges and a public vote by 10,000 people – participated in a week-long X Factor-style ‘boot camp’ where they received training to enhance their existing skills in farming and food production.


 
TOP: Sharon Corr attends an event in Mgeta village organised as part of our We Can campaign to combat domestic violence. This social movement recruits ‘change-makers’, people who pledge to change their attitudes and behaviours towards violence against women. ABOVE LEFT: Sharon gets ready to play traditional Irish music for locals in Kimamba village. ABOVE RIGHT: Sharon wears a traditional African headscarf presented to her by local women from Iyenge village. All photos by Barry McCall/Oxfam

Following a public vote, Ester was awarded first place. She proudly showed us the tractor that she won and also the grain store that she now manages on behalf of her community.

During the time we spent with Ester she warmly welcomed us into her home, where she wrapped Sharon’s hair into a traditional African headscarf and showed her how to grind maize, one of the staple foods in Tanzania.

The impact of the Female Food Heroes competition on Ester's life has been remarkable and she's now become the farmers’ representative on her local district council.

She's also using her prize of a tractor to help others in her community and so far, 10 other farmers have benefited from use of the machine.

Ester says that farming, “like anything worthwhile in life, takes discipline and hard work. Discipline is everything. We need more discipline in agriculture if we are really determined to end food insecurity.”

She has become a beacon of hope for all in her community.

We also met the two runners-up of the 2011 competition, Anna Oloshuro Kalaita and Mwandiwe Makame, each of whom won solar panels. They told us how their lives have changed as a result. They are using their prizes to benefit other women in their communities in a number of ways, such as charging household lamps.

TOP: Sharon Corr dances with local women and men in Kimamba village. Your donations help us to support many female rice farmers from the village to get title deeds to their land so they can farm their land securely and free from outside threats. ABOVE LEFT: Sharon watches a dramatisation of domestic violence as part of the We Can campaign with Furaha Kimaro, our Gender Programme Officer. ABOVE RIGHT: Sharon meets a young girl as she arrives at the home of Ester Jerome Mtegule, last year’s winner of the Female Food Heroes competition. All photos by Barry McCall/Oxfam

Throughout the visit, Sharon showed great compassion and empathy towards everyone she met. You can see her meeting Ester and other Female Food Heroes in the video below.

In Lyenge, we had arrived to the sounds of women singing in harmony. We left with an insight into how much is achieved when women can be empowered to come together and build a better future for their communities.

To add your voice to our call for increased government support for projects that empower women and combat gender-based violence, sign up today.

Nov 6, 2012

Nov Which Christmas gift will you pick?

6
2012

‘Never work with children or animals’ or so the showbiz saying goes, but we’ve done just that to launch our new-look Oxfam Ireland Unwrapped range of Christmas gifts you’ll just love to give. Some of Santa’s little helpers were on hand as furry friends from Wooly Ward’s farm showcased gifts like chicks (€13/£10), goats (€38/£31) and pigs (€35/£28).
 


 

TOP LEFT: Ruby McGing (3) perches on a sofa from Oxfam Home with a baby chick. TOP RIGHT: Ella O’Kelly (4) eyes up a llama outside our shop on South King Street shop in Dublin. CENTRE LEFT: Aisling Ó Moráin (2), Ella O’Kelly and Ruby McGing say hi to a hen. ABOVE LEFT: Aisling Ó Moráin (2) cuddles up to a piglet. ABOVE RIGHT: Ruby McGing and Laoise Ó Moráin (4) introduce the piglet to our South King Street shop.

And it’s not only our locally-sourced Unwrapped animals that transform the lives of people affected by poverty – our huge range has everything from schoolbooks (€18/£15) to seeds (€7/£6) and solar panels (€32/£26), so you’ll find a special something for every special someone.

We’ve also teamed up with The Body Shop and Divine chocolates to create gorgeous gift sets, such as our Care for mums with Shea body butter gift (£35/€43). It combines our Care for mums gift – helping make sure thousands of mums and mums-to-be get the help, expertise and support they deserve in Ghana – and The Body Shop’s sensual Shea body butter.

It’s never been easier to pick up an Oxfam Unwrapped gift – our new shopping cart is much faster and easier to use, and we’ve also added Paypal as a payment option.

With something for everyone, the range includes seven new options - breakfast for a child (€10/£8), baby kit (€10/£8), care for mums (€20/£16), solar panels (€32/£26), literacy classes (€49/£40), and a small loan (€70/£57), along with the gift of girl power (€14/£11) that supports projects helping women to assert their rights, tying in with our Ending Poverty Starts with Women campaign.

No matter which ones you choose, each gift you buy supports our vital work from emergency responses to advocacy projects. And you’ll also receive a free 2013 calendar to show how your support is making a real difference around the world.

Since our Oxfam Unwrapped gifts launched 10 years ago, people across the island of Ireland have given more than 140,000 life-changing gifts and at the same time helped to improve the lives of over half a million people affected by poverty in countries like Tanzania and Malawi.

Unwrapped gifts can be purchased online, in your local Oxfam shop, by post and by phone (1850 30 40 55 in the Republic of Ireland or 0800 0 30 40 55 in Northern Ireland).

So how does it all work?

When you buy an Oxfam Unwrapped gift, you’re creating a better future for people like Fatimata in Mali.

In her village of Intadeynen, lack of rain is making food and water scarce – and keeping kids out of school. But by working with mums like Fatimata, we are tackling all three of these problems together thanks to your support. Providing a good meal in school (€10/£8) is a great incentive to get kids into class.

So we helped Fatimata’s village school to plant drought-resistant vegetables (€7/£6) such as cabbages, onions, potatoes and beetroot. The vegetables are grown specifically for school meals and the surplus is sold to buy rice and books (€18/£15).
 

ABOVE: Fatimata at work in her garden.
 

Many children miss school in order to fetch water for their family. So we helped build new water pumps (€25/£20) to save travelling time and effort. Plus having water on tap means the school has plenty for irrigating their allotment. Fatimata and the other mums know how important education is. And the success of their garden in providing meals and having clean water has meant more parents can send their children to school.

“We knew that without one decent meal a day, some children would not be able to come to school. We are proud that we have made a success of our vegetable garden.”

Thanks for supporting Unwrapped gifts. You make it happen.

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Oct 20, 2012

Oct A new beginning

20
2012

When drought kills your livestock or floods wipe out your business, how do you put food on the table for your children? This was the situation faced by Elisabeth and Mary. Thanks to the support we've received through our Ending Poverty Starts with Women campaign, hope is on the horizon.
 

Meet Mary

A life can change in the blink of an eye. Mary Atabo and her family went from being comfortably-off nomadic farmers and shopkeepers with a thriving small business to relying on food aid and the sale of charcoal to feed themselves. All because of the vagaries of the weather: first a drought claimed 90 of their 100 goats and then flash flooding destroyed their shop.

Almost one million people in Turkana, Northern Kenya, eke out a living in semi-arid conditions. But the proud people who call Turkana home are determined not to give in. They are adapting their traditional ways to cope with drought or floods – whatever the unpredictable climate throws their way.

TOP: Thanks to your donations, Mary Atabo (centre) and her family are rebuilding their lives following a devastating drought and flooding. ABOVE LEFT: Nanyiti Alkaram is one of the women who is planting vegetables using the tools, seeds and other support you provide. ABOVE RIGHT: Children in Katiko village can eat more nutritious food grown in the vegetable gardens. All photos by Alejandro Chaskielberg/Oxfam

Mary and her family are not giving up. They face a new beginning; a difficult one but one with hope for better days at the end of it.

And Oxfam is there with them; and others throughout Turkana. In Katiko village, children have more nutritious food because of our work, supported by you.

Women like Nanyiti Alkaram are improving things by planting kitchen gardens using hoes, rakes, watering cans and seeds provided through your generosity.

Life in Turkana is tough. But it doesn’t mean it can’t change for the better.
 

Meet Elisabeth

When she was widowed, Elisabeth Ekatapan was left solely responsible for caring for her eight children in the village of Natoo in Turkana, Northern Kenya.

It’s an inhospitable place. Elisabeth grew up as a pastoralist, living off the livestock that she herded from one place to another to find water and grazing. But an increase in drought over the previous decade has forced her to look at other means of making a living.

“Animals are not sustainable anymore. When there is drought your animals die and you are left with nothing. If I could make one thing happen it would be to have my own business and earn money,” she says.

TOP: Like Elisabeth Ekatapan, John Ekono Ekiman, who lives near the village of Lomekui, lost animals during the drought. He has received camels and goats as part of our project helping farmers. John says: “I remember laughing when Oxfam gave me my camels – it was the happiest day of my life. I feel really proud of having them. In the future I want to expand and grow my camels and goats.” ABOVE: Widow Elisabeth Ekatapan now grows vegetables to feed her family thanks to your donations, which have funded a vegetable allotment project for 400 familes. All photos by Alejandro Chaskielberg/Oxfam

Everyone has the right to decent work, income and freedom from hunger. So we’re working with 400 families in three villages in Turkana (Riokomor, Karebur, and Nayenaeemeyan) to develop vegetable allotments. The gardening scheme has turned a desert landscape into a green oasis of hope.

Families working on the allotments received hoes, rakes, watering cans, fencing materials and seeds to plan. The plots of land are irrigated by small water points, either wells or hand pumps, located nearby.

Elisabeth and other mums caring for families can now grow vegetables to cook and sell. They are not reliant on the animals that can’t graze and drink because the rains don’t come. Women make up almost 90 per cent of those who work on the allotments.

Ending Poverty Starts With Women. Help us support women like Elisabeth today.

Oct 19, 2012

Oct A child's message of hope

19
2012

By Jim Clarken, Chief Executive

Letters from our supporters can bring a ray of sunshine to the often dreary Dublin and Belfast mornings. The generosity of the Irish public is inspiring.

The willingness of people to hand over money, clothes, books and other items in order to help people the other side of the world is an incredible testament to the sense of humanity that prevails in Ireland, even during our own economic problems. Recently, I arrived into the Oxfam offices to be greeted by this letter.

It was from three young boys, Dion, Louis and Oliver. The note left no contact details and no information about the boys themselves. But it left a message. A simple message. Dion, Louis and Oliver had made a gesture.

They had sold pictures and raised €65 for Oxfam. That €65 will be used to fund vital work. It will help to bring hope and a better future to people living on the other side of the world. Dion, Louis and Oliver will probably never meet those people.

But that doesn’t matter. Their generosity and goodwill will send a message. A message of hope. On behalf of the people we work with, thank you for your continued selfless support of others.

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