Foreign Development

"In many ways, Oxfam encapsulates in one organization the various functions of a modern NGO. It engages in humanitarian work, assisting those immediately affected by conflict and natural disasters. It implements development programs, seeking to lift communities out of poverty with long-term, sustainable solutions. It lobbies and advocates, in a bid to affect policy decisions on the causes of conflict at local, national, and international levels. It undertakes in-depth and rigorous research into best practices and structural challenges. And it does all of these things effectively and to the highest standards."
By the numbers
For the reasons above, as well as those below, Oxfam is my charity (or NGO) of choice for foreign development donation.

Empowering Communities

Oxfam works around the world in developing countries with local organizations that are already taking responsibility for their own progress. These partners explain to Oxfam what the local problems are and what issues stand in their way. Oxfam listens to them and gives them additional knowledge, networking and capital so they can develop their own comunities.

One such project is the ABCD project. Instead of focusing on what communities don't have, Oxfam focuses on what they do have and supports the community using their talent and other resources so they can take charge of their own lives.

Asset-Based Community-Drive Development

Ending Poverty starts with women

In most developing countries women are not part of the economy and are disproportionately affected by poverty. Oxfam and their partners work with local grassroots organizations to have women take an active part in the economy. By empowering women, the communities have more "human power" to make and sell what they need. By empowering women they help take those women and their entire families out of debt or subsistence living and have them generate wealth so they can afford shelter for their families, food for their children and have savings for hard times.

Innovative solution

One thing I love about Oxfam is that they use innovative solutions. When I hear about some of their programs I think, "huh, what a bright idea!"

The first example is microloaning, which I had first heard about through the Oxfam's program: Give small amounts of money to women in developing countries to start their own business. Apparently these loans were being paid back very successfully. This was great: because it wasn't charity in a negative, paternalistic sense but treating everyone with dignity, respect and as responsible people.

The second was about HIV/AIDS prevention. They had women go in to bars and give sex talks to men. Why would that work, you might ask? Usually women aren't able to talk to men in those sorts of countries that freely. Usually men wouldn't listen to them. Well, Oxfam specifically looked for, trained and deployed sex workers. So sex workers got the training that could possibly save their lives and then used that training to spread the information in a frank manner. It affects more than just the sex-workers involved and changed minds across the country.

A new way of working

What makes Oxfam different is that they are willing to work with other large charities and put themselves and their jobs second to helping people in needs (like their work with the Humanitarian Coalition).

Poverty is a simple word that has an important meaning. But it's a symptom of an underlying problem. Oxfam works to address the root causes of poverty rather than just fighting the poverty itself. Other factors affecting poverty and developing countries include health education, family planning and global warming. Oxfam works on all of these both with governments and in spite of government. They are independent from governments and egalitarian with distribution of aid.

Oxfam Canada with its international partners have broad reach and lots of knowledge to build on. But Oxfam also works with other charities, either coordinating small charities on the ground or splitting up responsibilities with larger charities when they go in to a region.
Oxfam CanadaOxfam is known throughout the world for being one of the largest charity/NGOs as it consists of a confederation of 15 Oxfams around the world. It has a sophisticated multi-pronged approach to work in developing countries that not only lifts communities out of poverty, but effects real cultural change that all community members get to benefit from.

Oxfam is an efficient organization ranking with the best in terms of reduced overhead and your money going to where it needs to go. Like most major charities, this number is 80%.

Poverty is not a simple problem. Driving in, giving people homes, farm equipment and basic literacy is only a start. Oxfam moves beyond this to effect real cultural change:
  • through their personal actions and decisions;
  • through creating equitable and respectful social relationships and institutions;
  • through eliminating the social, cultural, economic, legal and political barriers to women's equality;
  • through holding governments and other authorities to account;
  • through respectful stewardship of the global environment; and,
  • through building global citizenship.
Oxfam Canada believe that for development to work it must be owned, driven and led by local people themselves.


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