I have always been interested in environmental and social justice issues and have volunteered with various organizations throughout my academic and working life. When I moved back to Toronto from Ottawa last summer, I looked up the local Oxfam office and inquired about volunteer opportunities and have been working with them ever since! Oxfam works with organizations in developing countries not just in dealing with the symptoms of poverty but actively trying to tackle the root causes of poverty, injustice and inequality. The goals and objectives of Oxfam resonate strongly with me and I have always respected the work they have done in making a difference – both on the ground and in a larger policy context.
Oxfam is also great organization to volunteer with because they value and support their volunteers by providing them with resources and networks to foster and encourage engagement and participation on both their internal and external programs and initiatives.
I began volunteering with the Toronto Community Group in the Fall of 2007 and have been involved with campaigning, public education and outreach for the "For All" Campaign at various festivals throughout the city. I am also part of the sub-committee that will provide input and comments to Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy (a strategy that seeks to achieve a 25% reduction in child poverty in Ontario in the next 5 years).
One of the most rewarding experiences of being an Oxfam member is working alongside a group of individuals who share similar ideals and values on a sustainable and equitable future. It’s easy to become cynical and depressed about overwhelming global problems such as poverty, injustice and inequality, but just knowing that there are other like-minded individuals and organizations like Oxfam out there that are doing good work makes it easier to stay engaged, motivated, positive and most of all – inspired!
I have learned that true long-term sustainable change takes time and a dedicated and focused effort. Oxfam has shown that changes through campaigns such as Control Arms, Make Trade Fair, etc have all come about through many small steps and efforts all directed towards a larger common goal – starting from making people aware of the issues and making them care then putting pressure on governments and corporations to do the right thing. Seeing the tangible results and the positive impacts Oxfam has had on the daily lives of people and on larger policy issues proves that change does happen and that you can make a difference!