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Ending global poverty begins with women’s rights

Matthew Tanko Grand

Matthew Tanko Grand

by Oxfam | May 17, 2010

I was raised to respect everybody and to treat everybody equally regardless of who they are or what they look like. I worked as a social worker for several years. I worked with developmentally disabled individuals from many backgrounds. This experience inspired me to learn about other forms of discrimination in the world after learning firsthand how disabled people are discriminated against.

I studied political science while concentrating on international relations at Carleton University in Ottawa. After graduating with my Honours B.A., I went traveling for seven months throughout Latin America, studying Spanish and discovering a whole new world as well as a new part of myself. After returning to Canada, I was determined to get involved with an organization that was doing positive work and making a positive difference in the world. Oxfam and I matched up quite nicely. We both get along very well to this day.

As I already mentioned, I wanted to gain an understanding of how an NGO operates. Oxfam fit perfectly with my idealistic and optimistic mind frame. I wanted to meet people who were involved with this organization, and to find out what other people think and what they are doing to improve this world, one day at a time.

I have been Mr. Versatility since I arrived on the Oxfam scene. As a volunteer and as an intern with the Public Engagement, Advocacy and Campaigns Team, I have done extensive research, written newsletters, press releases, and communicated with Oxfam employees and volunteers all over the country. I have made public appearances, doing public speaking, tabling, raising awareness, recruiting volunteers and actively promoting Oxfam events and Oxfam’s mission in my community and around Vancouver. I have helped hold volunteer meetings and arrange various other Oxfam events. I have performed many office duties including email networking, database entries, event planning and performing secretarial duties. I even got keys to the office, that’s right, keys. I have also danced with Miriam Palacios, Oxfam Canada’s Public Engagement Officer, at Music 4 Change we really tore up that floor.

I would have to say that speaking to the public and recruiting volunteers was the most rewarding aspect for me. I love educating people about political issues that matter to Oxfam and to me. It’s always a wonderful feeling when I can inspire someone to get involved and passionate about an issue like human rights for all.

Because of Oxfam, I have begun to understand how an NGO operates and how challenging the task is to take on these critical issues such as ending global poverty and empowering women. Even though many people agree with Oxfam’s creed, it is another story to convince people to support Oxfam’s work and to convince people of the importance of coming together to take a stand and fight for human rights.

I have also learned that there are so many inspiring people that are just as passionate as I am about trying to make this world a better place. It is inspiring to me and it motivates me greatly to associate with so many impressively active citizens who are so intelligent and committed to such noble causes. I believe that I have gained a greater hope for a brighter future because of the amount of work that is being done and from the number of active citizens who share dreams of a world where everybody is truly treated as equal people.

My motivation has increased as a result of my experience with Oxfam and that is an unbelievable thing, because I have never been short of motivation. I truly believe that together, we can force our government to stand up and really take the lead on human rights issues of justice and equality for all. All we need is to raise more awareness and to have a leader that inspires our country to take that stand together.

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