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A year in pictures: the impact you helped make happen in 2015

It’s been a busy year! 2015 saw considerable global challenges – such as the Nepal earthquake, rising global inequality, conflict in South Sudan and Syria and the refugee crisis, among others.

It was also a year of momentous achievements – world leaders committing to 17 Sustainable Development Goals designed to end extreme poverty by 2030, and an historic if imperfect global climate deal at the COP climate talks in Paris.

Thanks to the inspirational support of our donors, campaigners, supporters, volunteers and staff, Oxfam’s programmes during the past 12 months helped a record 25 million lives around the globe, through our emergency responses, development projects and campaigning.

So to review the year, we wanted to share just a small selection of photos which illustrate how your support helped Oxfam make an incredible difference during 2015.

Vanuata was left devastated by Cyclone Pam in March 2015. Pictured here is Marie-Lea with a voucher from Oxfam. We have been assisting families affected by Cyclone Pam by distributing vouchers to be exchanged for farming items, building materials, and other general goods. The aim is to help them rebuild their livelihoods and grow food. Photo: Adrian Lloyd/Oxfam

A man in Kathmandu, Nepal washes his face at an Oxfam tap stand in the Tundikhel camp for people displaced by the earthquake in April 2015. We have delivered essential aid – including emergency shelters, hygiene kits, clean water and sanitation facilities – to more than 445,000 people affected by the quake. Photo: Pablo Tosco/Oxfam

All summer, we brought our Even it Up campaign around Ireland, north and south, and 25,000 people backed our call for action on inequality. We highlighted that just 80 people – few enough to fit on our double decker bus – have the same wealth as half the world’s population and urged world leaders, including the Irish and UK governments, to tackle the root causes of inequality. Photo: Press Eye

August 2015: Female Food Heroes, the Oxfam-supported initiative in Tanzania, continues to empower female farmers through its accompanying reality TV show. The programme highlights the vital role played by women in lifting communities out of poverty, as participants compete in farming tasks and learning about leadership, women's rights and finance management. The show attracts 21 million viewers – approximately half the population of Tanzania. Pictured is participant Edna Kiogwe, tackling a task during filming. Photo: Coco McCabe/Oxfam

Children participate in a lesson about hygiene at an Oxfam community centre in Zaatari camp, Jordan, in September 2015. By providing drinking water, toilets and showers, community centres, hygiene promotion and waste collection, we support some 25,000 of Zaatari’s 80,000 residents displaced by the conflict in neighbouring Syria. Oxfam has so far reached more than 1.6 million people in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon with life-saving clean water and sanitation. Photo: Sam Tarling/Oxfam

The public showed their compassion for the plight of people fleeing conflict and poverty and urged governments to make ‘Refugees Welcome’ – here standing up and being counted on Sandymount Strand, Dublin, in September at an event organised by a coalition of Irish NGOs. The Irish and UK Governments committed to opening their borders to more vulnerable refugees. We are supporting asylum seekers who have arrived in Serbia and Greece, as well as in Italy. Photo: Steve Kingston

Pictured in November 2015 is Zewudie Dagnew with her son Ashenafi Aragaw in the Amhara region of Ethiopia, where Oxfam’s R4 Rural Resilience Initiative is helping farmers increase their resilience to challenges like drought. Farmers there speak of how weather patterns have changed over time and how the rains that feed their crops are coming later than they used to and departing sooner. Photo: Coco McCabe/Oxfam

Megacone perform on the Oxjam stage at Electric Picnic 2015. As well as organising events and campaigning at summer festivals, Oxfam Ireland called on music fans across the island to put on their own pop-up events as part of the Oxjam Gigmaker campaign. Photo: Olga Kuzmenko.

Oxfam aid worker Amy Christian talks to refugees from Afghanistan as they wait outside a registration centre for migrants and refugees in Preševo, southern Serbia in October 2015. We are working in Serbia to help some of the thousands fleeing to safety, providing clean water, toilets and showers. In Greece we are providing hot meals and winter kits, while in Italy support includes housing, food, psychological support, legal assistance and language classes. Photo: Sam Tarling/Oxfam.

“Clean water – thank you Oxfam!” Brian collects water from an Oxfam water tap in Lologo, Juba, South Sudan. Since conflict broke out in December 2013, more than 10,000 people have lost their lives and 1.5 million people have been forced from their homes. We are currently supporting 690,000 people with humanitarian assistance, including clean water, hygiene facilities, food, fuel and income support. Photo: Fred Perraut/Oxfam

We are one of 17 Oxfams working for change in more than 90 countries – these pictures represent just a few of our projects in Tanzania, Nepal, Jordan, South Sudan, Vanuatu and Ethiopia.

None of the work we do could happen without your support. You helped save lives and rebuild livelihoods after natural disaster struck Nepal. You showed generosity and compassion to those affected by the fighting in Syria. You gave a voice to those affected by the migrant crisis and forced our governments to strengthen their responses. You pushed businesses and institutions to reform practices that reinforce inequality.

You shopped with us in our 49 shops throughout Ireland. You danced with us at Oxjam 2015. You hosted your own events to raise awareness and funds. You donated to our fundraising efforts, including our Oxfam Unwrapped campaign. You supported our Even it Up campaign, to tackle the root causes of inequality.

You are making a difference – thank you! We look forward to your continued support in 2016 so that we can secure further progress towards our vision of a just world without poverty.

On behalf of Oxfam, Happy New Year!

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Ireland rugby star Andrew Trimble helps us tackle poverty

Christmas is a special time. I recently became a dad, so I am looking forward to spending a first Christmas with our baby son.

The festive season is also a time for sharing. As we remember those less fortunate than us, I’m proud to support Oxfam Ireland’s Unwrapped range of alternative Christmas gifts, to help families in emergency crises and extreme poverty worldwide.

Oxfam Ireland Ambassador Andrew Trimble is pictured with siblings Micah and Lucy Campbell and a Clutch of Chicks’ (€19/£15), one of the charity’s Unwrapped range of alternative Christmas gifts, which help families in emergency crises and extreme poverty worldwide. Photo: Press Eye Photography/Oxfam.

To promote the Unwrapped gifts I recently took part in a photo shoot at the Oxfam shop in Botanic Avenue in Belfast, with the help of two-year old Micah and his five-year-old sister Lucy, along with some chicks from the Ark Open Farm in Newtownards. The cute chicks soon drew a small crowd of admiring customers, with Oxfam staff explaining how these simple Unwrapped gifts can transform lives.

2015 has been an incredibly challenging year for the people Oxfam are trying to help. War and conflict has forced millions more people from their homes and everything they knew. Earthquakes, cyclones and other extreme weather events have destroyed lives and livelihoods that people worked so hard to build. People just like me and you, but who now have the odds stacked against them.

Oxfam shops across Ireland, north and south, are offering a wide-range of Unwrapped gifts that give back, making a positive impact in the lives of people.

One of those gifts is called ‘Care for a Baby’ (€17/£12). It helps Oxfam to provide life-saving emergency aid to families from the youngest member to the oldest, helping them survive crisis situations with what’s needed most like food, clean water, shelter and sanitation. Gifts like these are vital to people fleeing conflict in places like Syria.

Another gift that makes a big difference is the Unwrapped ‘Cooking Stove’ (€10/£8). This gift is eco-friendly and fuel-efficient – it only uses half the wood of traditional methods and it’s hotter too. Oxfam’s emergency workers give the stoves to families who’ve lost everything in places like South Sudan, providing people with warmth and a way to cook food. It also reduces the need for women to venture in search of firewood into areas where they are at risk of attack – and makes it one of the ways Oxfam keeps women and girls safe after they’ve been forced to flee their homes in an emergency.

Andrew's Pick: Unwrapped Cooking Stove

Other Unwrapped gifts range from giving girls the opportunity to reach full potential with ‘Educate a Girl’ (€25/£19). through to helping poor farmers thrive through agricultural projects with cards like a ‘Goat’ (€35/£25). or a ‘Clutch of Chicks’ (€19/£15).

The ‘Clutch of Chicks’ gift is more than a bit of yellow fluff – you’ll actually be helping to make possible a whole range of life-changing livelihoods projects. By providing communities who depend on animals for their livelihoods with new opportunities, you’ll be supporting them in a variety of ways, including veterinary care for their animals, agricultural training or even village grain banks.

Oxfam Ireland Ambassador Andrew Trimble with Micah Campbell and a baby chick. Photo: Press Eye Photography/Oxfam.

Whatever Unwrapped gift you buy, Oxfam will ensure that your money has the best possible impact on the communities who need it most, from providing safe water that saves lives in emergencies to helping farmers to grow more crops as well as lots more besides. Please help those who have so little this Christmas to build a better future in 2016. Thank you.

Unwrapped gifts are available at your local Oxfam shop as a printed gift card and can also be purchased online at www.oxfamireland.org/unwrapped which also has e-card versions, or over the phone by calling 1850 30 40 55 (Republic of Ireland) or 0800 0 30 40 55 (Northern Ireland).

Ireland and Ulster rugby player Andrew Trimble is an Oxfam Ireland Ambassador.

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20 Christmas gift ideas guaranteed to spread smiles

Following a recent survey, we  discovered over 8 in 10 Irish people are open to buying a charity gift this Christmas. So we wanted to show you the Christmas gifts we have on offer here at Oxfam Ireland. We are very excited about our gift range this year - these gifts are guaranteed to spread smiles on your family and friends’ faces this Christmas morning!

1. Chocolate - This gift helps people to develop sustainable and secure livelihoods like cocoa farming. For example, you could help support cocoa farmers by providing them with everything they need from cocoa seeds to tools, training and marketing advice.

2. A Share in a Farmyard - This gift gives people livelihood opportunities as part of our Investing in Futures projects. You’re helping communities who rely on animals to make a secure and sustainable living by helping to provide what they need most which may be livestock, agricultural or veterinary or grain banks.

3. Eco-Stoves - This gift helps people to stay safe and warm in emergency and crisis situations. Fuel efficient eco-stoves provide people with warmth and a way to cook food. They also reduce the need for women to venture in search of firewood into areas where they are at risk of attack – and makes it one of the ways we keep women and girls safe after they’ve been forced to flee their homes in an emergency. 

4. School books - This gift will support amazing Oxfam initiatives in Malawi aimed at helping orphans and vulnerable children get into school and to stay there. It will open a new chapter in life for children affected by severe poverty, helping them to access the education they need to learn and grow.

5. Care for a baby - Babies are among the vulnerable people Oxfam watches over when disaster strikes. By giving this gift of care, you’ll help families, from the youngest member to the oldest, survive crisis situations through life-saving emergency aid.

6. Honeybees - This gift helps people to develop sustainable and secure livelihoods like bee-keeping. For example, you could help rural farmers to learn about the latest beekeeping methods and how harvest more honey from their hives.

Some photos from our Season of Smiles Christmas event at Oxfam George's Street featuring Houdini the pig who came along to help us promote our Unwrapped Gift Range including the gift of Three Little Pigs.  Photos: Nathalie Marquez Courtney

7. A Clutch of Chicks - This gift is more than a bit of yellow fluff – you’ll actually be helping to make possible a whole range of life-changing livelihoods projects. By providing communities who depend on animals for their livelihoods with new opportunities, you’ll be supporting them in a variety of ways, including veterinary care for their animals, agricultural training or even village grain banks.

8. Educate a Girl - Girls are more likely than boys to be kept out of school, which denies them life-changing opportunities. Supporting women of all ages to learn and grow is one of the many ways this gift makes a positive difference. This gift is enabling girls to get an education and reach their true potential.

9. Safe water for families - The gift of safe water saves lives and helps families to thrive. With this gift, we can help set up or maintain a safe water supply with pumps, tanks, taps, purification systems or pipes.

10. Fix a Well - This gift can provide labour, tools and other support to maintain a well or water point, or fix a fractured supply. Repairing fractured water supplies and ensuring people have safe drinking water is just one of the ways you can help save lives through our humanitarian work.

11. A Goat - This gift supports people who depend on animals like goats for their livelihood. By donating a goat, you’ll be helping families to develop a sustainable way of living and lift their communities out of severe poverty in a variety of ways, including veterinary care for their animals, agricultural training or even village grain banks.

One of our Oxfam Unwrapped gift cards. There's 15 to choose from starting from as little as €5 / £3. Photo: Keith McManus / Oxfam Ireland

12. Feed 10 Families - This gift supports vital humanitarian work through our Saving Lives programme. Providing food in the aftermath of a natural disaster or in a refugee camp is just one of the ways you’ll help families in the most difficult of times. 

13. A Goat Couple - This gift supports people who depend on animals like goats for their livelihood. A breeding pair will not only produce twice the fertiliser but they’ll also make more goats for either growing the herd or passing on to another family.

14. Three Little Pigs - We all know the story of the three little pigs, but this gift provides a happy ever after for many families by funding a variety of livelihoods projects that develop better farming methods. By purchasing this gift, you’ll be helping people who rely on animals for their livelihoods to lift their communities out of severe poverty.

15. Safe Water for a School - This very generous gift is for those who want to make a big change for many. Large gifts like this can be tailored to the areas of work you’re interested in. For example, you could help set up or maintain a clean water supply for a school with pumps, tanks, taps, purification systems or pipes and help children, teachers, parents and community leaders understand just how important hygiene is to health.

16. An eCard – Maybe you’re looking for something last minute or easy to send overseas? And a goat doesn’t immediately come to mind! All of the gifts listed above are available as a physical card or as a beautifully designed eCard, personalised with your details.

17. An Oxfam computer – The computers available in our online store have been fully restored, tested and given a new lease of life. They have a 12 month warranty, are a fraction of the retail price they cost new and as each sale contributes to our work to end poverty. They really are good computers! 

Pick up a refurbishedor in-store while stocks last. Photo: Brian Malone / Oxfam Ireland

18. A Christmas donation – With your support, we’ll be able to respond immediately during disasters, while also supporting people’s efforts to overcome poverty for the long term. Around the clock and around the world, we’re working tirelessly to right the wrong of poverty and injustice and we can only do it with your help. 

19. A book - Whether it's a fictional adventure to imaginary lands, a biographical piece with lessons from history, or something entirely different, Oxfam bookstores located throughout Ireland contain lots of books that have the power to spark curiosity, introduce innovation, and open opportunity!

20. Something nice for your home - Our Oxfam Home stores offer a superb range of furniture and homewares to suit every budget and home and so make the perfect Christmas gift. As well as helping raise vital funds for our work with communities affected by poverty, buying from Oxfam Home means you’re helping the environment too by recycling furniture that was destined for the local landfill. 

Well there you have it - twenty charitable Christmas gift ideas! The majority of these gifts can also be ordered online, giving you more time to do the things that really matter this Christmas.

For gift card delivery before Christmas, order by Friday, December 18th if you’re buying online or by phone (RoI: 1850 30 40 55 / NI: 0800 0 30 40 55). If you find yourself in need of a last-minute gift, however, don’t worry - you can buy an Oxfam Unwrapped eCard super quick on our online store.

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8 in 10 Irish people consider buying a charity gift this Christmas

More than 8 out of 10 Irish consumers would consider buying an ethical/charity gift as a Christmas present for a friend or family member this Christmas, according to a recent survey by Oxfam Ireland released as part of the launch of Oxfam Unwrapped.

Given the ongoing generosity of our own supporters throughout the years, and indeed the seasons, these survey results come with no surprise to us here at Oxfam Ireland. Christmas being a time of goodwill, it’s a time where thoughts turn to buying gifts for our loved ones. Christmas is also the time we as a nation are known to think about donations to charity and helping people living in poverty. Oxfam Unwrapped offers you the choice of combining the two by giving your loved ones great gifts that keep on giving.

We found that over two-thirds (68%) of Irish people considering buying an ethical/charity gift this Christmas are encouraged to do so because it will help those in need. So whether you’re looking for a stocking filler present for €10/£10 or less (like Chocolate €5/£3, a Share in a Farmyard €7/£5 or a Cooking Stove €10/£8) or are raising money together with your school, group, company or club to buy a large-scale gift (like Water for a School €1,950/£1500), the impact is the same – lives transformed for the better.

Almost 2 in 5 (37%) of Irish people say they would buy an ethical/charity gift this Christmas as they know the person they will give it to would love it, while another third (34%) mentioned that giving an ethical/charity gift as a Christmas present is unique and different.

This year we have lots of gifts guaranteed to generate smiles on the faces of your loved ones!

Pictured outside the Oxfam shop on South King Street, Laoise (7) and Róisín (2) O’Morain from Sandymount in Dublin help Oxfam Ireland ambassador and presenter Lorna Weightman launch Season of Smiles – Oxfam Ireland’s Christmas range. Houdini the pig and Cola the goat were also there highlighting the Unwrapped range of alternative gift cards which allows people to buy goats, pigs, chicks, chocolate and more to support Oxfam’s work worldwide. Photos: Photocall / Oxfam

Our incredible animal gifts are the perfect gift for the animal lovers in your life and are always a hit with kids. This year, animal gifts include Honeybees (€17/£12), A Clutch of Chicks (€19/£15), A Goat (€35/£25), Goat Couple (€70/£50) or Three Little Pigs (€75/£55). By purchasing animal gifts, you will raise money for Oxfam’s Livelihoods fund. This fund supports a wide range of life-changing programmes that help vulnerable communities who depend on healthy animals and farming for their livelihood. 

Whether you want to buy a gift for a friend or family member who is passionate about education or loves to cook, we have you covered! You can buy the gift of a Cooking Stove (€10/£8), Feed 10 Families (€65/£45), support a child’s education with the gift of School Books (€12/£8) or even help to Educate a Girl (€12.50/£9.50). Have a DIY-lover in your life? Buy them the gift of Fixing a Well (€32/£22). Purchasing any of these gifts will raise money for one of Oxfam’s four specific funds – Livelihoods, Saving Lives, Investing in Futures and Water for All. Your gift will go where it’s needed most and begin to make an immediate difference. 

Your gift could help people like Dith Mon and her family in Cambodia (pictured below). In Prei Preal Khor village Oxfam has set up an innovative water station to provide the community with safe drinking water. Using solar-powered pumps the station draws water from nearby wells and pushes it through several sand filters before being bottled up for sale. Before the water station was built Dith Mon, who takes care of her grandchildren, did not have access to clean water and she and her family suffered repeatedly from typhoid. However, now that Dith Moth has been getting water from this station, things have improved. She explains: “The children are rarely sick at the moment though because they are now drinking the clean water.”  

Dith Mon, Prei Preal Khor Village in Cambodia. Photo: Simon Rawles/Oxfam

Buying an Unwrapped gift could help support a child to go to school, particularly girls living in rural poverty. For example, working with local partner organisations Oxfam renovated four girls’ schools in Pakistan – resulting in a 42 percent increase in enrolment—and provided others with trained teachers and new equipment. 

A student at one of the renovated girls’ schools in Pakistan. Photo: Irina Werning/Oxfam 

We’re asking you to consider us again this Christmas, please help us spread millions of smiles around the world by generating funds for people living in poverty. With your help, together we can save lives this holiday season.

For gift card delivery before Christmas, order by Friday December 18th if you’re buying online or by phone (Republic of Ireland: 1850 30 40 55 / Northern Ireland: 0800 0 30 40 55). If you find yourself in need of a last-minute gift, don’t worry - you can buy an Oxfam Unwrapped eCard super quick on our online store.

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South Sudan photo exhibit highlights stories behind stats

A new photo exhibition – Make Them Visible – opens this month in Belfast to highlight the situation faced by people displaced by conflict in South Sudan. 

World Press Photo award-winner Kieran Doherty, whose family is originally from Belfast, travelled last year with Oxfam to South Sudan. Kieran’s striking photos from the trip now form a new exhibition in Belfast’s Linen Hall Library, where Kieran will also deliver an illustrated lunchtime talk, to share his impressions of South Sudan and the human stories behind his images.

There is an acute humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, after what began as a localised conflict on 15 December 2013 quickly spread across many parts of the country. Over 1.5 million people have since been internally displaced as a result of the conflict. 

Above-left: 35-year-old Richard Corodo lives in St Mary, where he was treated for cholera. Oxfam has distributed chlorine sachets and clean buckets for people to treat their own drinking water, as well as rehydration salts to be used in emergencies. Latrines and hand washing stations have also been constructed to help prevent the spread of disease.

Above-right: 1. Nyanror Derwer Reeng (62) is widowed and is living with her daughter’s family in Mingkaman: “All I think about is being free again. I’m blind but I can hear the fighting and I wish for peace in my country so I can go home again.” 2. A woman hangs her washing out to dry between two shelters in Juba. Many leave behind their precious livestock and find themselves destitute, without belongings or a means of making money. Many families arrive in host communities which are already stretched.  3. Both government forces and an alliance of rebels have been accused of committing atrocities. Many families around the country have taken refuge at camps protected by UN peacekeepers. A camp in Bor, where people from the Nuer community were staying was attacked by armed youths. This ten-year-old boy was shot three times in the head and miraculously survived the ordeal. Photos: Kieran Doherty/Oxfam

The fighting which has forced them from their lands has also prevented them from planting crops. Almost 4 million people are estimated to be severely hungry, with 30,000 people experiencing extreme and dangerous hunger levels in war-ravaged Unity state. 

Oxfam is currently supporting 690,000 people with humanitarian assistance in South Sudan, including clean water, hygiene facilities, direct food aid, fuel and livelihoods support. Oxfam has also helped over 100,000 South Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia and 145,000 in Uganda.

Doherty said: “I met ordinary people forced into an extraordinary situation – vulnerable people in a forgotten crisis. 

“Behind each photo is an individual human being – just like you and me – who has had to flee, leaving behind belongings, a home, friends and often family. 

“Hopefully this photo exhibition can then help make these ‘invisible people’ visible by highlighting the situation of South Sudanese refugees and their families.” 

Above-left: 1. Following an  attack in their camp, women were not allowed to venture outside to gather wood, which meant there was no fuel to cook the food that was being distributed. Six weeks later, the gates were opened for an hour to allow women to fetch as much wood as possible from designated areas. 2. Pooch Mangyak with his fish on the River Nile. With so many people away from their homes and unable to plant their crops again this year, the food crisis is worsening. The River Nile is a source of food for both locals and those who have newly arrived in Mingkaman. Oxfam is distributing fishing equipment to displaced families to help supplement their diet. Above-right: Portrait of Kieran Doherty by Simon Kreitem. All other photos: Kieran Doherty/Oxfam

 

The Make Them Visible exhibition runs in Belfast’s Linen Hall Library from Tuesday 10th to Saturday 28th November, with a free lunchtime talk on 12th November at 1.30pm. The exhibition is part of EUsaveLIVES, an Oxfam campaign in partnership with the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO), to raise awareness about the situation of refugees and displaced people

 

It's time for Climate Justice

In December, world leaders from over 190 countries will come together for climate talks in Paris. Their decisions will affect us all.

Climate change is dramatically changing the world we love. It’s putting our homes, our land and our food at risk. For nearly a billion people living in poverty, changing weather and the increasing number of natural disasters mean more hunger.

25 of 1,000 emails sent

It's time for Climate Justice

In December, world leaders from over 190 countries will come together for climate talks in Paris. Their decisions will affect us all.

Climate change is dramatically changing the world we love. It’s putting our homes, our land and our food at risk. For nearly a billion people living in poverty, changing weather and the increasing number of natural disasters mean more hunger.

0 of 1,000 emails sent
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Budget 2016 lost opportunity for real tax transparency

The Irish government’s final budget is a lost opportunity for real tax transparency needed to ensure a fair recovery for all.
 
We need to wipe out the secrecy that facilitates corporate tax dodging. Corporate tax dodging means governments keep putting their hands in the pockets of ordinary taxpayers to pay for the shortfall – many of whom can least afford it.
 
Minister Noonan announced today that Ireland will be one of the first countries to require companies operating here to declare to tax authorities how much tax they pay and where in line with new OECD recommendations. However, Ireland’s tax authorities will not have to share the information or force companies to publish their reports.
 
The government has moved in the right direction with measures announced today but missed the opportunity to show real leadership by ensuring companies publish their results so citizens are aware of exactly what they earn where, what they owe where and what they actually pay in tax.
 
18,000 people petitioned Minister Noonan last week asking him to make tax fair as part of Oxfam’s campaign against inequality. By dodging their tax liabilities, big businesses are constraining the ability of governments worldwide to tackle inequality and provide critical services. Ordinary people in rich and poor countries alike lose out as a result of tax havens, tax competition and a lack of transparent data on financial activities.
 
We recognise the government’s efforts over the past two years to deliver this action plan.  But this tax package must mark the beginning, not the end of global tax reform.  We need reforms that genuinely create an international tax system which works in the interests of the majority – not the few.
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Climate Change. Poverty. Hunger. It’s all the same fight.

This week thousands of people around the world are standing shoulder to shoulder with rural women, who are not only feeling the harshest effects of climate change but, in the face of woeful government inaction, are also leading the fight in feeding their communities, and the world. We meet women like Ipaishe, a farmer in Zimbabwe who is passionate about farming and vocal about the causes and solutions to climate change. And Langging, a young activist in the Philippines who thinks we should stop blaming each other and start doing what’s right – “imagine the impact we could have”.

Across six continents and more than 20 countries these women’s voices are being heard; on the streets, by politicians, online, in forums, at flashmobs, through song, through dance, at festivals, dinners, and on film. Welcome to GROW Week 2015!

Above: Anastasia Antonia, a member of the Farmer Field School of AENA, hitchhiking to Paris. Mozambique. Photo: Annie Bungeroth/Oxfam

Raising these voices this GROW Week is particularly significant as we are now just weeks away from the UN Climate Negotiations in Paris where government leaders from rich and poor countries will make big decisions about climate change that will affect all of us.

Climate change is changing the world we love. It’s putting our homes, our land and our food at risk and it’s threatening the fight against hunger.  For most of us, it means less quality food, less choice, and higher prices. For nearly a billion people already living in poverty, it means more hunger.  

Our message to leaders is that they must ensure that money to help people cope with the effects of climate change is on the way up, and the use of fossil fuels, the biggest drivers of climate change, is on the way out. And they have to start by protecting the people whose lives and livelihoods are most at risk.

This GROW Week we stand together to show what’s already possible and urge leaders to be as ambitious as these women in Paris.

Climate Change. Poverty. Hunger. It’s all the same fight.

Hear straight from Ipaishe, Langging and others here.

Take action now - Stand against climate change

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The loveliest letter you'll ever read

Video: Brian Malone/Oxfam

Thurs, October 8th, 2015

Dear Oxfam,
I have done a yard-sale to raise funds for Syrian people who are refugees.
It is not nice for anyone to live in tents in cold. I just don’t agree with it.
From Grace (10) and Nina (9),
Cabra, Dublin 7.

Sometimes the most powerful words come from children. The above letter to our Dublin office accompanied a cheque for €32.41 for our Syrian emergency response. This donation is most welcome – it will help provide safe drinking water and other aid to Syrian refugees living in camps and experiencing the most difficult of times. But the letter’s message – about what’s fair and what’s right – is just as powerful.

Forced to leave their homes and everything they know behind, Syrian refugees have had to put normal life on hold indefinitely, living in camps and informal settlements many miles from home where basics like a warm place to sleep, enough food to eat and a school to go to are difficult to come by if not impossible.

Hearing about the challenges faced by the Syrian relatives of a family friend and watching coverage of the crisis on the news made Dubliners and best friends Grace and Nina want to help.

Above: Grace and Nina's letter to Oxfam. Grace and Nina telling us their story. A picture from the  girls' yard sale for Syrian refugees. Grace's mum, Susan.

“It was really sad and kind of scary for me, so I didn’t really want to look at it,” explains Grace. “But I kind of do now because I want to find out more.”

Grace’s mother Susan spoke to them about the situation faced by Syrian refugees.

“We have a friend whose family are living in the refugee camps near Syria who had to flee their homes,” Susan says. “I had an image in my head of children in the camps not wearing shoes around the time of it being winter and it really kind of hit home. They were freezing cold and they didn’t have the comforts of home in addition to all the trauma they were going through.

“So [Grace and Nina] came back then and said, ‘Yes, we’d like to give the money to Oxfam and to the refugees in the camps’.”

But the yard sale and all the work involved was very much Grace and Nina’s doing. As Susan says, “They’re a pair who come up with ideas and they’re always on a project of some kind or other.”

There was lots to do including posters to make and rice crispie buns to bake. The pair also parted with some favourite toys and the event was a big success.

Nina explains: “I didn’t think it was going to be a big yard sale but then when we were getting everything ready, it was like, ‘Oh my God!’”

The girls have been inspired by what they’ve achieved (they raised a total of €64.82 and divided the funds between Dogs for the Disabled and Oxfam Ireland), so watch this space!

“We want to help refugees even more,” says Grace, while Nina adds: “And doing the yard sale was really fun.”

Out of a total of 22 million people living in Syria before the crisis, more than half the population has been forced to flee their homes, including more than 4 million who have fled to neighbouring countries.

Above: Syrian refugee Ahmad carries his daughter Nour as they walk towards a registration centre for migrants and refugees in Presevo, in southern Serbia. He and the group he's walking with had already travelled for 20 kilometres that day. We have begun a new emergency programme in Serbia to help the thousands like Ahmad and Nour who are fleeing to safety. Photo: Sam Tarling/Oxfam

Along with providing Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon with clean drinking water and relief supplies like blankets and stoves, we are also helping families get the information they need about their rights and connecting them to medical, legal and support services. Other work includes building shower and toilet blocks in camps. We are also providing clean water in Syria itself.

We have also begun an emergency programme in Serbia providing clean water and sanitation to help some of the thousands fleeing to safety, including many Syrians, who will soon face a harsh Balkans winter. Meanwhile in Italy we have programmes providing asylum seekers who have been saved from the Mediterranean Sea with housing, food, psychological support, legal assistance and language classes. We continue to campaign and advocate for an immediate ceasefire and a sustainable and inclusive political solution to the conflict in Syria.

We are also highlighting the individual stories of refugees to make them more visible through the EUsaveLIVES joint campaign with the European Commission.

When we shared Grace and Nina’s letter with colleagues working on the Syria crisis emergency response, the message of support made their day.

To know that people like Grace and Nina care about what’s happening to Syrian refugees and want to help, inspires us all.

By highlighting unfairness and how to do something about it, as they have, the future can be better place.

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