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Oxfam International: A Confederation of Humanitarians      
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Greetings, considerate viewers, and welcome to Good People, Good Works on Supreme Master Television. This week’s program features Oxfam International, a global charitable alliance of 15 non-profit organizations working in 98 countries that conducts emergency and long-term projects to aid the disadvantaged and enhance social justice.

The name “Oxfam” stems from the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief, a non-governmental group formed in 1942 by social activists and academics in Oxford, UK, whose objective was to relieve famine in Greece during wartime. Oxfam’s operations and missions can generally be categorized into three areas: long-term sustainable development projects, advocacy campaigns on important issues and humanitarian relief work.

Development Projects

The development projects, which are the heart of Oxfam’s work, find innovative, lasting ways to improve the lives of those in need. One of the organization’s success stories involves the introduction of a new cultivating technique that improves crop yields, called the System of Rice Intensification or SRI, in the African Sahel, Southeast Asia and India. In Âu Lạc (Vietnam), for example, Oxfam has been working with local partners to help small-scale rice farmers mitigate climate change and enhance food security through SRI farming methods.

Advocacy Campaigns

One of the most powerful, effective Oxfam initiatives is its Celebrity Ambassador project. Through the support of many public figures and international celebrities, Oxfam has helped better lives in developing nations around the world. Renowned English TV and radio personality Zoe Ball, the first ever female host of the BBC Radio1 breakfast show, is a celebrity ambassador for Oxfam Great Britain.

In 2009, when Ms. Ball was expecting her second child, she and 20 other pregnant women joined a campaign begun by Oxfam and other partners, such as Save The Children, Action Aid, the Trades Union Congress and Unison to urge the British government to provide free healthcare services to vulnerable women and children in developing countries. The campaign was highly successful as then Prime Minister of Great Britain, His Excellency Gordon Brown, announced that the UK, along with other nations, would fund free healthcare services in six developing nations, including Sierra Leone.

According to 2008 statistics, only 10% of births in this West African nation took place in a clinic or hospital. In the first month of the program’s implementation, the number of patients treated in prenatal clinics in Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown increased by seven-fold and 179% more children were being seen in health centers.

Oxfam’s Press Officer, Sarah Dransfield, who also worked on the project, met a young Sierra Leonean mother who benefited from the charity care. The 19 year old named Marian, whose delivery was paid for by the program, said of her newborn baby, “He is a sign of great hope for my country.”

Humanitarian Relief Work

As natural disasters and other crises continue to cause widespread suffering around the world, Oxfam is dedicating a large portion of its resources to assisting people affected by these catastrophes, especially climate refugees, by supporting search and rescue operations and providing food, clean water, sanitation and shelter.

Since July 2010, Oxfam International and its partners have helped 2.4-million people affected by floods in Pakistan. The group is also currently responding to humanitarian emergencies in Palestine, Afghanistan, Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Liberia, Sudan, South Sudan, as well as in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Since July 2011, East Africa has faced its worst drought in decades, leading to the most severe food crisis of the 21st century. Oxfam International’s affiliates are now fully engaged in providing emergency assistance to those suffering from the crisis. Mr. Michael Delaney, director of Humanitarian Response for Oxfam America discusses the situation in the region.

All of our energy is focused on responding to the crisis in the Horn of Africa. There is a tremendous drought in some areas; it’s a famine, where over 12-million people are affected and suffering at this very moment. And so we are on the ground in Ethiopia, in Somalia, in Kenya, helping people survive and also helping them become less vulnerable and have a more sustainable future.

So, where our work is happening, right now as we speak, we have our staff out in those countries. All of the energy around our communications and our policy changes are around and dedicated towards the people in the Horn of Africa. Last week in our camp in Ethiopia, we had 20,000 people there. We were preparing a camp for 60,000. Today there are 75,000 people in that camp. So you can see how quickly this is evolving and the needs that are great.

Besides distributing desperately needed food, Oxfam America is providing life-saving drinking water to those affected by the drought.

Well, after two years of very minimal rains, this year has been the least amount of rainfall in over 60 years in some places in Somalia and Ethiopia. So the water tables under the ground are very low. Ponds are dry and so Oxfam, in many of the communities where we’re working and also in the refugee camps and the internally displaced camps, we need to, drill bore holes, sometimes 100 meters, sometimes up to 200 meters in order to access water.

We can pump it out of the ground and then distribute it in a way that can meet people’s needs. One, so that they don’t have to walk so far to get water and we can provide it in their communities, or if they’re already in refugee camps or internally displaced camps, we provide the water right there for them.

With the help of Oxfam America and its partners, it is envisioned that people in devastated East African communities will eventually be able to return to their normal lives.

We know that in the short-term, people are moving in the refugee camps, into internally displaced camps. That’s a short-term solution. The longer-term solution is going to be getting people back on the land farming again and producing again. So, we have to think about this response, not as a short-term, three-month response but one of 18- months, two years, maybe even three years.

In Ethiopia, for example, we have been working with regards to the drought for the last two years. We have been responding to both the emergency, but also helping communities build long-term sustainability. In those communities that we have been working in over the last two years, we are, right now in the third year of the drought, we're not working there because people are actually doing better. They're working together as a community. They have some irrigation. They have crops that are growing this year right in the midst of this drought. So, that’s a very positive sign.

Upon first hearing of the tragic crisis in July, Supreme Master Ching Hai pledged US$150,000 each to Save the Children and Oxfam, for a total of US$300,000 in emergency aid to the Horn of Africa, with a personal message that she was doing so “with love and gratitude for these noble organizations' compassionate works.”

On Supreme Master Ching Hai’s behalf, our Association members from Boston, USA presented the check for US$150,000 to Oxfam America together with gifts including her books “Love of Centuries” and “From Crisis to Peace,” as well as her #1 international bestsellers, “The Birds In My Life,” “The Dogs In My Life,” and “The Noble Wilds.” Delicious vegan sweets including a vegan cake were also given to the charity. Mr. Delaney had the following message for Supreme Master Ching Hai.

On behalf of Oxfam America, we are very grateful for the check of US$150,000 for our East Africa Crisis Fund. This money will go to help the people of Somalia and Kenya and Ethiopia immediately. So we are very grateful to have this money to support the workers who we have in place in each of those countries who are working day and night in support of the people suffering from this crisis. So thank you very much.

It’s very timely, this gift. And we’re also very appreciative of the many gifts that you brought us beyond the check that support us as an organization and will help all of us, the many staff of Oxfam going forward. So thank you very much. Thank you for your visit and thank you for your gifts.

Michael Delaney also explained how the donated funds will be used in East Africa.

We can increase the programs that we are carrying out and respond to the many people who are trying to survive at this very moment. There are people trying to reach refugee camps. Oxfam is there waiting for them. We provide water and sanitation and food to help people at their time of need. And others are in their homes or communities that have gone through almost two years without any rain. This is the third year that they are suffering without rain.

So we’re helping with providing water in those communities. Irrigation. We’re, helping with tools and other instruments so that they can rebuild their lives. So this kind of support, the support from you is allowing us to carry out that work in the Horn of Africa.

The President of Oxfam America, Mr. Raymond C. Offenheiser sent a kind thank-you letter to Supreme Master Ching Hai, which reads as follows:

August 5, 2011 Dear Supreme Master Ching Hai, Thank you for your generous gift of US$150,000.00 to support Oxfam America’s response to the current emergency in East Africa.

With your contribution to our East Africa Relief Fund, Oxfam will continue to provide desperately needed humanitarian assistance to the victims of the drought and the growing food crisis in the East Africa region, ensuring access to clean water, public health and sanitation, and support for emergency food security and livelihoods recovery.

On behalf of the many people in East Africa whose suffering has been eased by your generosity and compassion, thank you for supporting Oxfam's humanitarian response program. We could not do it without you. With warm regards, Raymond C. Offenheiser, President

We also give our deep heartfelt thanks to Supreme Master Ching Hai for the compassionate love and care she has shown to those affected in the Horn of Africa. Finally, we salute you Oxfam International and all your affiliates, including Oxfam America, for your determined efforts to bring emergency relief supplies, justice, healthcare and a more promising future to those in need around the world. May your meritorious service to humanity continue and save many, many more lives in the future.

For more information on Oxfam International and Oxfam America,
please visit www.Oxfam.org
and www.OxfamAmerica.org

Thank you loving viewers for your presence today on Good People, Good Works. May all on our planet be blessed with everlasting peace and contentedness.

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