I am a sciences student at Simon Fraser University planning to purse medicine and public health. I first became involved with Oxfam when I was in grade eleven, after attending a local youth conference. I picked up Oxfam’s pamphlets there, and what struck me right away was how focused the organization was on the root causes of poverty and on finding practical solutions.
From there, I started a global issues group at my high school. One of the events we did was a fair trade week which teachers and students alike really embraced. And later that year we organized, with a fair bit of work, a 24-hour Hungry4Change fast, raising nearly $6000 for an Oxfam-supported HIV/AIDS project in South Africa. Those two events got me fully involved in the organization.
At Simon Fraser, there was no Oxfam club. So we started one andin our first two years weorganized fair trade weeks, World Food Day events, landmine film showings and fundraisers, plus facilitating ‘Food and Trade’ workshops to over 500high school students inBC. As part of our Control Arms campaign I helped coordinate provincially, we raised money for CanadianStudents for Darfur and collected thousands of facesof support for the million faces campaign. Over the past few years, catalyzed by CHANGE leaders like Ronita and Peter, the club has explodedinto the most active humanitarian group on campus!
In summer 2005, I worked out of the Vancouver office, coordinating volunteers for our Make Poverty History and Make Trade Fair campaigns at summer festivals and farmers markets around BC. That August, fifteen of us organized the first annualOxfam Food Security Symposium for Youth, attracting 70 high school and college students to a full day of small arms, HIV/AIDS, fair trade and action, linking in with our national CHANGE initiative training for campus club leaders which I’ve facilitated at for the past few years.
Last spring I was electedyouth director to the Board by Oxfam youth members. I’m currently chairing the Board Membership and Volunteer committee and work alongside our extraordinary team of Regional Youth Liaisons.
I’m excited about getting youth involved in Oxfam, because I think that youth will embrace the organization’s key messages. When you are young, it’s easy to become cynical when looking at the world. Young people say, `Well, there is nothing we can do, what is the point? But Oxfam offers solutions.
Attracting youth right now can really drive Oxfam into the future. If we invest the energy into making connections with young people, those links will stay with the organization and it give it the idealism and energy and power that youth can bring.