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Ending global poverty begins with women’s rights

Hannah Bontogon

Hannah Bontogon

by Oxfam | May 17, 2010

I recently returned to Toronto from Tanzania where I spent a year working in HIV/AIDS health programming. Based in Dar es Salaam, I traveled to other communities in rural villages to implement education and leadership programs in HIV/AIDS. I have also done health-related projects in West Africa and Latin America working in community health and education.

I graduated from the University of Western Ontario where I studied nutritional science and health promotion. I am currently working in Community Health in high priority neighbourhoods of Toronto while pursuing postgraduate studies in Food Security, part time at Ryerson University.

While at university, my involvement with campus groups including Oxfam, Amnesty International and the World University Service of Canada shaped my interest in social justice issues. As well, the overseas projects that I was privileged to have been a part of greatly fuelled my passion to become involved, particularly in issues concerning poverty and women’s rights.

I have volunteered with Oxfam for over 5 years. As a student, I took part in campaigns such as Education Now, Make Trade Fair and Control Arms. After university, I joined the Toronto Local Committee (now the Toronto Community Group), and took active roles in different areas: Developing Oxfam’s display for the 2006 International AIDS Conference, and taking a leading role in organizing the annual World Food Day events and the Ontario Regional Assembly, all of which were wonderful learning experiences and great successes. I am currently the co-coordinator of the Toronto Community Group and the vice chair of the Ontario Regional Steering Committee.

I have been able to witness the impact of Oxfam’s work both at home and abroad. Here at home, it has been a privilege to work with like-minded, dedicated individuals and to join efforts to creatively raise awareness on Oxfam’s work. I have seen individuals with no knowledge of Oxfam suddenly open up, intrigued and eager to learn more. Overseas, I have seen Oxfams carrying out their work in the field and feel a sense of pride knowing that their work will resonate back home.

Working first-hand with communities severely affected by global injustice has made me determined to continue contributing from home and Oxfam has enabled me to do this. I have learned that whether as a front-line worker in the field in a developing community, or as a working citizen in Toronto, there is work to be done on both ends of the spectrum. Oxfam is a great organization that will empower all who are involved, from either side of the globe.

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