Gratitude Challenge, Day 5: Oxfam

I’ve been called to the gratitude challenge, but rather than follow the rules I’ll be posting each day about an organization whose work I am grateful for.


I am grateful for the work of Oxfam. You can support this work here if you feel so moved.

One in eight people around the world are undernourished.

An estimated 22,000 children die each day due to poverty.

Of the 2.2 billion children in the world, an estimated 1 billion live in poverty.

That is not okay.

To be perfectly honest, I am most passionate about issues within my geographic community. I get most riled up by systemic injustice and entrenched discrimination within the United States. I put my personal energy towards working to improve the four square miles of Somerville, Massachusetts. And that work feels like an important use of time.

But that doesn’t mean I can just ignore the rest of the world.

For years I did anti-genocide work, particularly advocating to end the genocide in Darfur.

I am all for fruitless yet important labor, but never have my efforts felt so much like banging my head into the wall.

We’d raise awareness, share the stories of Darfuris and hear from Armenians, Jews, Rwandans, and others who had survived genocide. We’d pressure companies to divest and pressure congress to act. My former Congressmen and four of his colleagues were arrested protesting outside the Sudanese embassy.

But nothing ever changed. Not really.

Darfur was just another in a long history of human rights atrocities. An insidious problem from hell that was always surrounded by reasons not to act.

So why do I share this story in a post about the important work of Oxfam?

Well. This might be a little Walter Lippman of me, but I actually don’t think I’m in a position to do the best work on global affairs.

I suppose the work I did on Darfur was important, but if raising awareness is the most I can offer – I suspect there are better ways to do that than organizing events which only reach the same hard core activists who already care.

Not to be self deprecating, but I honestly don’t think I have enough expertise on global politics and international affairs to deeply engage in this work.

In Somerville, I work with small, on-the-ground non-profits. I like organizations where I can dive in and do the work, where I can add some experience and expertise, where my efforts can help them meet their goals.

I just don’t have that capacity when in comes to international work.

That might be one of the many things that makes me a terrible person, but I prefer to think of it like this: international work is just not my calling. It’s not where I can add the most value and it’s not where I should dedicate the majority of my time.

But I damn sure better make sure someone is doing that work.

I am grateful to Oxfam because they address on the ground, dire needs, and advocate for better policy to confront the underlying issues.

I am grateful to Oxfam because they do have the expertise to dive into these issues. To find solutions. To keep up the fight.

I am grateful to Oxfam because when a massive Ebola epidemic threatens many in the world, Oxfam can do something about it, while I can just sigh. And give money.

Just donating sounds kind of crass, perhaps, but sometimes it’s the best thing you can do. I’d gladly leave this work in their capable hands.

Please consider supporting this work.


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