Born during World War II to aid people in crises, today Oxfam works in more than 90 countries and is considered one of the top 10 philanthropic organizations in the world after being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
By Andres Crisafulli
With 17 national NGOs working in more than 90 countries Oxfam is considered one of the top 10 organizations in the world, a leader in the fight for economic justice, essential services, rights in crises and gender justice. Their ambassadors include actors Scarlett Johansson, Gael García Bernal, Helen Mirren, and Kristin Davis, singer Miguel Bosé and Coldplay.
World War II: the beginning of change
In 1939, the greatest war among world powers started after the German invasion of Poland. Military operations in Europe, Africa, and Asia and six years of hostility left more than 60,000 dead.
There were shortages, refugees, epidemics, devastated cities, genocide, persecution and deployment of weapons never before seen by humankind. After the conquest of Eastern Europe and France, on September 7, 1940, Adolf Hitler held the Blitz against his next target: the UK.
Top: Chris Martin, the singer of rock group Coldplay, in Ghana
Bottom: Ecuador, following the earthquake
Major British cities, including London, Liverpool, Bristol, Southampton, Birmingham, Cardiff and Manchester were bombed, causing about 43,000 deaths and more than a million homes destroyed.
English society experienced first-hand the evils of war and reacted with repudiation and resolve against the offensive. While the damage was catastrophic, the German Empire had not achieved its primary objective: keeping the British away from the war.
Quite the contrary, the attack was the trigger that prompted a group of citizens— led by Joe Mitty— to react, creating the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief. Their first mission was to send food supplies to Greece, one of the countries that suffered the most at that time.
In 1945, after the end of the war, the committee successfully boosted the "Save Europe Now" campaign to send food to the devastated and defeated Germany. By the 1950s the organization expanded its horizons to places in a crisis caused by natural disasters, providing valuable help and assistance after the earthquake in the Ionian Islands in Greece and the floods in India in 1966.
In the 60s, the Oxford Committee decided to make a shift towards the struggle for justice, as well as economic and social efforts to provide support to the southern populations of the planet. The representatives of the organization were sharply critical of the power structures that hindered the development of those countries.
Thus, in 1967, the group set up offices in Latin America. The expansion exceeded expectations, and it became one of the NGOs with the largest presence around the world.
After more than 35 years of significant humanitarian efforts and outstanding results for life and love, in 1992 the organization was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, a high recognition that encouraged the members to continue and deepen their work.
Top: Oxfam Volunteers preparing supplies for the Philippines
Bottom: A boy in Cambodia accessing clean water
Oxfam in Ecuador
The 7.8 magnitude earthquake that devastated Ecuador on April 16, 2016, was one of the strongest seismic events in the country's history, as well as one of the largest natural disasters in South America’s recent history.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says more than one million people were affected, including over 650 deaths and more than 50,000 people injured.
Faithful to its principles, Oxfam continues to lead the humanitarian aid with supplies and human resources. At this stage, the efforts are focused on facilitating access to safe water and contributing with sanitation to prevent the spread of disease.
The institution has more than 30 years working in Ecuador, promoting improvements in income, living conditions, access to water and land and recognizing women’s rights.
If you want to be part of this great philanthropy effort, this is your chance to donate. The organization depends not only on financial donations; it also has a large number of businesses selling second-hand clothing and objects.
You can donate whatever you no longer need or use, volunteers will be responsible for marketing it. The proceeds will go to existing or future projects by the organization. ■
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