charity

Make a Difference with Oxfam Unwrapped

Christmas usually signifies a happy time where families come together and exchange gifts. This year, more than ever before, I’ve been thinking about how this isn’t always the case. For many reasons, Christmas isn’t the most wonderful time of year for everyone and today we’d like to put spotlight on some that are less fortunate than us.

2015 has been a great year, especially for us. I, myself, have been through a lot and am struggling to get into the Christmas spirit. Having lost somebody earlier this year, Christmas is going to be particuarly tough this year. Although it’s perfectly natural to feel this way, I feel the need to remind myself that others have it much worse than I do.

In fact, I’ve been thinking a lot about how Christmas can be the worst time of year for some people. With such a huge focus on presents, there is an enormous amount of pressure on poorer families to deliver extravagant goods. During a period which signifies families coming together, people who aren’t close with theirs are reminded of this fact. Some people can’t go home because their family won’t accept them (LGBT+ folk) and Christmas isn’t much to celebrate, when you’re living in poverty. So when you come across somebody, like myself, who doesn’t particuarly enjoy Christmas, please be mindful of that. Don’t be quick to judge and call them a Grinch, their mental health might have seriously taken a toll.

With my current state of mind, and uncertainty surrounding whether all of our readers celebrate Christmas, I’ve decided to talk about Oxfam today.

It’s easy to take everyday essentials for granted when you live in an advanced Western world. Necessities like clean water and food are within easy reach to us, but the reality is they’re not so easy to obtain for everyone else.

In third world countries, 1,400 children are dying every day due to diarrhoea. Something as simple as clean water and soap can prevent this happening and save lives. Oxfam Unwrapped are changing lives around the world with their gifts. From a ‘Goat’ gift in Malawi to a ‘Safe water’ gift in Cambodia, these gifts can make a big difference.

Last year, 1.25 million people benefited from Oxfam’s work as they improved their sanitation facilities and reduced the spread of disease. In addition to that, health promotion activities such as training for children about washing their hands has dramatically transformed the people of Ouallum Province lives including Binta and her family.

Binta Boukary and her baby daughter Fati (2) in Dadaga Village, Ouallum Province, Niger, March 2015. MALNUTRITION “I have two children. My son is twelve now, his names Razak. I was born here and married here too. Living here is ok these days, especially now with this project. Before Massoura was sick, really sick but now she’s much better. She had terrible stomach pains, fever. When she was sick, we were given medicines, special food, aquatabs (water purification tabs) and the hygiene kit, soap etc. This stuff was not available before the project - before it was a very bad situation. If this stuff had not been available I would have lost my daughter to the fever. I was so worried, I couldn’t even sleep at night. Every two or three days I had to go to the treatment centre. We were given medicine and enriched porridge for Massoura. She was even taken by ambulance to Ouallum District Hospital. She was admitted for ten days, then I returned home and she was referred to the local health centre here. Today my little girl is well! She’s eating well, and can even eat the same as everyone else, a little millet porridge, some fruit, everything she’s given!” HYGIENE AND NUTRITION “I was really pleased with what I learned about hygiene and nutrition; I learned to prepare fruit as well as porridge, and to wash my child, to wash her hands everyday. The conditions here have really improved. I’m able to work again and do my Community Health Leader activities for Oxfam. I can collect water and cook now that I’m not bound to my babies side all the time. As a Community Health Leader, I weigh the children and quickly identify if a child is sick or has malnutrition. I do this once a month. We do a census and we evaluate who’s sick. This has been good for me and the village. In the old days if children were sick, would you believe, no-one even knew they were ill! Now we find them very quickly. I have a special role here, it’s given me a good position in the village because it’s an important social role in the community. People treat me with respect – as soon as people talk about Community Health Workers, everybody knows us, we’re respected by men and women equally, and even by children. We promote clean homes and clothes - to remove the dirt. So we like Oxfam, they’re ok! We feel good about Oxfam. They do their activities, we get paid. I earn 7000CFA a month as a Community Health Worker.” CLIMATE “My husband is the chief of the village, but I’m still very poor. My family are farmers, we grow millet cereal and haricot beans. When the harvest is good, life’s ok. When the harvest is not good, it’s very painful. We just eat our crops. Most of the time we don’t sell it because it’s not much. We can borrow a little from each other if we need to. The weather is changing - sometimes the harvest is good, sometimes not. It depends on the changing climate. In 2013 there was a bad flood here so we suffered a lot. The flood destroyed our homes, our young crops. There was no food when the flood came. There was no yield. Thankfully, our neighbour’s villages were higher up, and there was a Government food distribution programme. There were also NGO’s working here at that time: Oxfam, Save the Children and World Vision were doing food for work projects. In 2010 there was also bad drought that affected the whole region. Many went hungry.”

Image credit(s): Sam Tarling (feature) &  Abbie Trayler-Smith (above)


“Today my little girl is well. I’m really pleased with what I learned about hygiene and nutrition. I learned to wash my child, to wash her hands every day. The conditions here have really improved. I’m able to work again.” 
– Binta Boukary.

 

How can I help and get involved with Oxfam Unwrapped?

You can help raise awareness by sharing this post or you can buy the gift of some soap. A soap gift is just £5 and contributions also go towards helping the Oxfam water aid project which helps provide safe clean water for all. As well as soap, there various unwrapped gifts to choose from:

 

 

Merry Christmas, Zusters! xo

 

 

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7 thoughts on “Make a Difference with Oxfam Unwrapped

  1. I was approached by Oxfam Unwrapped too and it prompted me to write my ‘First Christmas’ post making me realize how lucky I am to be living in the UK with health care and food on tap. Although I was not well off I was not living in poverty and it puts things into perspective for you. Since I was 16 I have spent Christmas in a different household because I had no family home to go back to and Christmas has never been special to me. There was one year when I was 10 and witnessed what a family Christmas was but since then it has had its ups and downs.

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