I became interested in volunteering with Oxfam Canada soon after I started to learn about the conditions of people in low-income countries, and especially after seeing them firsthand throughout Zambia. What I found informative and refreshing was Oxfam Canada’s emphasis on the root causes of poverty.
Learning about poor countries’ illegitimate external debts; the consequences of militarism and the international flows of weapons; the barriers to accessing basic social services such as health and education; the effects of rich countries’ unfair trade practices along with many other poverty-inducing effects helped me realize that the solutions to global poverty do not depend on rich countries’ generosity, but on profound changes in the international system. Given this and the sheer number of people that live in poverty around the world poverty so severe that it kills thousands every day I felt compelled to do something about it.
During the summer 2007, I was given the opportunity to do an internship with Oxfam Canada, where I was worked on promoting the For All’ Public Services Campaign in the Vancouver area. As an Oxfam intern, I was mainly involved in public outreach on behalf of the Public Services Campaign. This involved recruiting and training many volunteers to join me in attending various events where we could reach a great number of people to inform them on the importance of public services (health, education, water and sanitation) in fighting poverty in underdeveloped countries, and encourage them to sign our petition.
I also had the opportunity to do research and provide policy and strategy recommendations for the success of the campaign. My most rewarding experience was being able to inform the public regarding the conditions of poor people in impoverished countries, the barriers that they face to accessing basic social services barriers such as health and school fees and lack of access to safe water or sanitation and the work that Oxfam does and that people can help us do in changing these situations. The amount of people that were interested in learning more was also deeply rewarding and motivating.
Volunteering with Oxfam gave me a fuller understanding of the root causes of global poverty, and a greater appreciation for the work that Oxfam and other non-governmental organizations do in low-income countries. My internship allowed me to develop project management, volunteer coordination and effective outreach skills, which will definitely be helpful in future career opportunities.