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Call for Action: Write letters to your Senators about life-saving aid programs

Now that the election is over Congress will turn their attention to the budget. There is a concern that they could cut life-saving aid programs like Feed the Future and climate adaptation. These programs are crucial and positively affect millions of poor and hungry people.

We need your help to write letters and get the message out to not cut back on this life-saving aid to Illinois' Senators: Richard Durbin and Mark Kirk . Oxfam America drafted a sample letter that you can use to help you get started. See the attached file below.

Write your letters and email them to us at Chicago.OxfamActionCorps@gmail.com with the subject line "Lame Duck Letters."

A few tips:
  • Address your letter(s) to Richard Durbin and/or Mark Kirk
  • Write your letters in your own voice.  Personal experiences of traveling to another country recently or working in a foreign country are great experiences to mention. Make your letters personal to really get their attention!
  • If you want more information on foreign aid, check out our Foreign Aid 101 guide here.
Example of what to say:

Dear Senator [NAME],

I am a constituent and (vocation) from (city/town) writing to urge you to support the Senate’s FY13 funding level for the International Affairs Budget in order to protect poverty-focused accounts throughout all upcoming budget negotiations, including negotiations to avert or delay the sequester.

While I recognize our nation's fiscal constraints, poverty-focused assistance represents less than 1% of the federal budget. Cutting this funding would not close the budget gap, but it would negatively impact our national security, and how the world views our humanitarian values.

If deeper cuts are made to poverty-focused development assistance, a number of effective programs will be in serious jeopardy, such as:
  • Feed the Future, an initiative that fights hunger by supporting small scale farmers.
  • The Global Climate Change Initiative, which enables vulnerable communities to build resilience to water scarcity and extreme weather shocks.
  • The Global Health Initiative, which addresses maternal and child health, HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.
  • The Millennium Challenge Corporation, which rewards countries that promote democracy, human rights, economic freedom, and the rule of law.
  • USAID Operating Expenses, which supports reforms at USAID to make aid more effective and efficient.
These tools are critical for sustaining American leadership to build a better, safer world. I urge you to fully fund these effective programs and oppose any cuts to assistance for the world's poorest communities.

Feel free to include a personal note on why this matters to you.

(Your name and address)



Thanksgiving with the GROW Method

Looking for ways to Buy Local, Eat Less Meat and Dairy, Cook Smarter, Reduce Waste for Thanksgiving? And what better time than now, a weekend to celebrate family, friends and what we have over a delicious meal. Here are some simple recipes to start.

 Try this Salad to start your family meal.
  • 4 fresh Butternut Squash or 2 bags of butternut squash
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar Splenda* or regular brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons of Agave or Honey
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of EVOO
  • Spinach or mixed greens - washed & dried
  • 1/2 cup of dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 teaspoons of sesame seeds

Heat your oven to 400 F.
Chop squash into cubes
On a large baking sheet, toss your squash with  EVOO, brown sugar & honey.  Roast for 20 minutes.  Toss pecans, cranberries, salad together. Top with baked squash. Sprinkle with sesame seeds


 This is a great Panzanella to use farm fresh ingredients packed with antioxidants!
  • 5 cups of hearty, peasant bread torn into chunks
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (plus some for drizzling)
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 5 large, ripe tomatoes cut into large cubes or wedges
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into ribbons/shredded (chiffonade)
  • 1/3 cup fresh flat-leaf, Italian parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (plus some for seasoning the bread)
  • freshly cracked black pepper
 Preheat oven to 350°F. Place bread chunks in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Bake 15 minutes until dry and barely toasted.
In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, parsley and salt. Fold tomatoes into dressing.
Serve at room temperature.

Vegetable Tian Enjoy the season's best Midwestern Fall Harvest with this layered entree that offers a hearty vegetarian tian.
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium winter squash
  • 1 medium potato
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 Cup Shredded cheese of choice (Fresh grated Italian cheeses are great!)
  • S&P

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Finely dice the onion and mince the garlic. Saute both in a skillet with olive oil until softened (about five minutes).

While the onion and garlic are sauteing, thinly slice the rest of the vegetables.

Spray the inside of an 8x8 square or round baking dish with non-stick spray. Spread the softened onion and garlic in the bottom of the dish. Place the thinly sliced vegetables in the baking dish vertically, in an alternating pattern. Sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, and thyme.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, top with cheese and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown.

There is so much to try with broccoli, brussel sprouts, root vegetables and more! Check out the newest recipes on the Oxfam GROW method Pinterest page.

-Compiled by Megan Nakra


WATER OR GOLD? The Case of El Salvador

Next Wednesday, November 14th the CRLN (Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America) is hosting its annual luncheaon.  Oxfam America has partnered with CRLN to bring Salvadoran Franciscan friar, Brother Domingo Solis, this year's speaker for the CRLN's 2012 annual luncheon.  From CRLN's website:

"CRLN has partnered with Oxfam America to bring Salvadoran Franciscan friar, Brother Domingo Solis, as the speaker for on Wednesday, November 14, 2012 from 12-2 pm at Old St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Chicago. Brother Solis is a spokesperson from the Mesa Nacional Frente a la Minería Metálica (National Working Group on Metal Mining) in El Salvador. The Mesa Nacional was recipient of the "2009 Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Prize" presented by the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC. 
The Mesa Nacional has successfully mobilized the Salvadoran public to demand that Pacific Rim Mining Company be prohibited from initiating gold mining in El Salvador, since gold mining will threaten El Salvador's limited water resources.  In response, Pacific Rim sued the government of El Salvador under the U.S. Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), because the Salvadoran government rejected Pacific Rim's application for a gold mining operating license. 
This places El Salvador on the front line of confronting massive transnational corporate mining operations which have proliferated across the hemisphere over the last 15 years.  Gold mining is among the most aggressive and environmentally-damaging types of mining operations.  Gold prices have risen by shocking 420% in 10 years: from just over $250/ounce in 2002 to $1,700/ounce in 2012.  This price spike has generated an unprecedented modern-day gold rush by powerful transnational corporations across the planet. 
Mass scale transnational mining was the top issue among hemispheric human rights and social organizations at the May 2012 People's Summit, which met in Cartagena, Colombia, parallel to the Summit of the Americas.  Alejandro Villamar, coordinator for the watchdog organization Mexico Network on Mining Impact (REMA), asserted that in the last 12 years of pro free-trade governments in Mexico, 2½ times as much gold has been mined in Mexico as was mined during the first 300 years of the Spanish Conquest.  During the 2012 Ecumenical Advocacy Days, CRLN learned that 30% of Mexico's national territory is under mining exploration concession, as is 30% in Colombia and 40% in Honduras.   

Because these transnational mining companies are based in the U.S. and Canada, Latin American environmental and human rights leaders have urged North American citizens to take action."

For more information on the luncheon, check out their website here.
If you are interested in attending the luncheon, you can still purchase a ticket at this site: http://www.eventbrite.com/event/4400299414/eorg#


The Politics of Poverty

From Nick Galasso
Oxfam America research and policy advisor on inequality and economic growth.

Fighting Poverty Means Solving the Inequality Problem Last week, the World Bank released a new report assessing declining income inequality over the 2000s in Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico. Each country experienced significant reductions in inequality over the last decade. This finding is not new, but the authors helpfully tease out some nuance behind the trend.

Their findings suggest two factors drove the contraction in inequality. First, the skills premium (the wage distribution based on education) fell. In other words, the difference in pay between skilled versus unskilled workers declined. In Argentina, declining labor income inequality was driven by a boom in trade that caused a drop in demand for skilled workers. These conditions were bolstered by strong unions and a rise in the minimum wage. Focused government spending on higher education increased the supply of skilled labor in Mexico. Both factors—reduced demand and increased supply for skilled workers—were in play in Brazil.

The second factor is more progressive government transfers, as expanding coverage of cash transfer and social security programs played a significant equalizing force in the distribution of non-labor income in each country.

All three cases put in relief that solving inequality is fundamentally a problem of politics, not economics. In each, government spending on education, conditional cash transfers, and other social expenditures helped drive down inequality.

The authors provide some astounding figures highlighting why tackling inequality is crucial.

In Mexico, nearly 60 percent of the poverty decline since 1996 is attributed to reducing inequality. Argentina’s inequality drop accounts for 40 and 50 percent of extreme and moderate poverty declines, respectively. For Brazil, 50 to 60 percent of extreme poverty decline is attributable to reducing inequality.
These figures remind us that the fight against inequality and the fight against poverty are one in the same.


World Food Day 2012...Time to Get HANGRY

“Millions of the world’s poorest people will face devastation from today’s rocketing food prices because the global food system is fatally flawed and policy-makers can’t find the courage to fix it. Policy-makers have taken cheap food for granted for nearly 30 years. Those days are gone.”
Oxfam Media Advisory, August 2012

The food system is broken with the amount of inequalities, effect of climate change, and number of land grabs. 1 in 7 people go to bed hungry. Where is all the food? Established agricultural and economic agencies all agree that the food shortages can be managed. An increasing population and climate changes places a constant crushing stress on natural resources. We cannot afford to waste our food! When we invest in agricultural cooperatives, we invest in smallholder farmers who can provide more food to struggling populations. When we make active decisions about what to buy and how to cook, we can produce healthy meals that support farmers and place less stress on the environment. We can manage these food injustices and insecurities. We can all live better together.

This is it. Are you HANGRY that millions of children are starving? That parents, especially women, fight tooth and nail to provide for their children? That people are forced to choose between an education and food? That governments have allowed people to suffer at the expense of political and capital gain?

On Tuesday, October 16th we will celebrate World Food Day. Nations around the world are participating in this international movement to bring attention to agricultural practices and cooperatives. Countries like Canada, Saudi Arabia and the UK host workshops, Hunger Runs and presentations among leaders and citizens alike. This is a time to reflect on how to end hunger, raise awareness on better food production, and strengthen our collective efforts to surmounting the issues seen every day in the food system.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, established in 1945, set the following goals:

• encourage attention to agricultural food production and to stimulate national, bilateral, multilateral and non-governmental efforts to this end;

• encourage economic and technical cooperation among developing countries;

• encourage the participation of rural people, particularly women and the least privileged categories, in decisions and activities influencing their living conditions;

• heighten public awareness of the problem of hunger in the world;

• promote the transfer of technologies to the developing world; and

• strengthen international and national solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty and draw attention to achievements in food and agricultural development.

In 2011, the FAO resolved that we should turn crisis into stability. 2012 proved difficult with the worst drought in 60 years to United States farmers. You can get involved. Host a World Food Day dinner in your home or at a restaurant. Talk to people about how much you love to eat fresh food from the Farmer’s Market. Discuss the possibility of investing in an agricultural cooperative. Start trying the GROW method at home. Call and email senators to create legislation that improves food aid for those who struggle with hunger. Urge the EPA to waive the ethanol mandate and keep corn for food and not gas!

Our Chicago Oxfam Action Corps team is hosting an exclusive World Food Day dinner at Simply It! Come join us on October 18th for a delicious meal influenced by the GROW method. Meet new people and join our discussion! Sign up at GRUBWITHUS.     



Are You Hangry??

Last Week We gathered on the shore of Lake Michigan to talk about what it meant to Be "HANGRY".      We had some good food (Using the Grow Method of course) We hung out with friends and family, and we made some (might I say awesome) T-shirts.    Fun was had by all.     

I know what you are thinking.   What is HANGRY.     I was first introduced to the word last year.   Basically it is a merger of hungry and angry.  It is usually used to describe the feeling you have when you haven't eaten in a while and you start getting a little grumpy because your blood sugar is low and your body is telling you to go find some food.   I really like this word and it is fun to use, but after playing with the definition of hungry and angry I came up with this definition 

han-gry adj: 1. a feeling of displeasure or hostility caused by a need for food: 2. hunger causing a negative change in emotion; 3. anger due to lack of fertility

This is the precise definition of the world today.   So I guess I am Hangry.   What about you?



So what does the word integrity really mean?

This weekend I participated in two Chicago food events that from their titles sounded similar but ended up being very different.

The first event, Cultivate, was sponsored by Chipotle to market their Foodwith Integrity program with family activities, a live band, interesting food and well designed exhibits. There were thousands of people in attendance and at any given time there were perhaps a hundred people standing in line to see an exhibit of Chipotle’s sustainable agriculture and animal welfare programs. I thought it a bit odd that people would get so excited about the living conditions of pigs, but then I realized that the people standing in line had a little motivational nudge because after walking through the exhibit a stamp would be awarded that would eventually lead to a free burrito.

The second event that I attended was a rally put on by the Coalition ofImmokalee Workers (CIW) that used music and theatre to bring awareness to the human rights issues of agricultural workers in Florida. I learned about the CIW’s Fair Food Program to solicit corporations to sign an agreement to ensure fair pay and humane working conditions for tomato pickers.

Sounds like food with integrity, right? Well, it just so happens that CIW was holding their rally right outside of the entrance to the Chipotle event to raise awareness to the fact that Chipotle has not signed the agreement (Subway, McDonalds, Taco Bell, Whole Foods and Trader Joes have all signed). The purpose of the CIW rally was to raise public awareness and to encourage Chipotle to further their leadership in the sustainable food movement by signing the agreement that would provide transparency and accountability to wages and working conditions.

Chipotle’s Cultivate event was fun, easy and comfortable. It assured me that by eating at Chipotle I was doing my part and no further action or sacrifice was needed. But the CIW event was different. I shook hands with people that work in near slave like conditions so that I can pay a little bit less for my tomatoes. I was presented with information on the working conditions of agricultural workers in the US that made me uncomfortable with the source of my food.

And although I actually had more fun at the CIW event because it was so intimate and authentic, I left with much more than a fun experience. I left with a connection to a new group of people and with a conviction to pay more attention to the integrity of my food choices. 

For more info about the CIW rally see the Just Harvest blog post about the event (I borrowed their pic to help spread the word)

Alicia F.


GROW Method: Buy Local

Buy Local
The GROW method, in five concepts, supports a better food system by empowering you the citizen to build a healthier food industry. One of the first facets is…Buy local. It’s easier than it may seem. Not everything is made or grown in China! Whether its cheese from the up north or corn from the farm stand down the road, Illinois hosts wide markets to support local families. If you are a suburbanite, city-dweller, or neighbor of farmers, you make an impact when you buy food. There are farmers markets everywhere in Illinois to buy local. In fact grocery stores like Jewel-Osco and Whole Foods label where their foods come from for shoppers o support local. We make a conscious decision to buy from Wisconsin or Argentina. In buying local, we support families who make a living off of supplying food to any size population. 

 Whole Foods Naperville Signs

The GROW method also employs efforts to address issues like climate change. When buying local, we reduce carbon foot print. In reducing the emissions that come from shipping food from cross country or across the world we can change the increasingly fragile atmosphere. When possible, buying directly from farmers benefits their family and at the same times protects the environment. The best part is, you can get to know who makes your food! Dinner tastes more delicious when you know who grows your food. 
What to look for on products from abroad

While we make our best efforts to buy local, we can always promote facets of good business. If there is a special treat that comes from China, Bolivia or anywhere else, check to see if it is a Fair Trade product. This ensures ethical business practices that support local farmers across the globe. We may never meet these farmers, we may not even know where their location is on a map, but we can support them by supporting good business practices.

When we buy local, we share our table with farmers. Together we reduce the overwhelming pressure that farmers face based on the nature of their business, influence of big government and shortages due to climate change.  
How simple is it to buy local?

  • Check out this website for Illinois Farmers Markets
  • Visit FamilyFarmed.org  to keep up on the latest local events that support farmers
  • Try new local foods you have never tried before using some recipes on our Pinterest page!
If you have more ideas or want to tell us on how YOU are Buying Local, let us know chicago.oxfamactioncorps@gmail.com. Follow us on Twitter for the latest updates @chioxfamaction. Remember, together, we can all make a difference.

-Megan Nakra


Logan Square Farmers Market

On Sunday we spent time at the Logan Square farmers market, talking to local farmers and market goers about the GROW Campaign and the  GROW METHODFirst off, I would like to tell you all that if you have not been to the Logan Square market, you are missing out.  Even during the rain there was a steady stream of people eager to buy their fresh local produce, hang out with friends, and sign on to Oxfam's pledge to build a better food system.  

My favorite moment of the day was when a local farmer from Sandwich, IL (50 miles southwest of Chicago) came up to us to learn about what we do.  We proceeded to tell him about Grow and the Grow Method, but I could tell that his attention was not on us.  He was reading the TABLE FOR NINE BILLION (one of our handouts that summarizes the Grow Campaign).  He looked up at us with an expression on his face that I couldn't quite place, and said, "This is it, this is right on,  if we can do this, we will be on our way!"

And that is when I realized what the look on his face was.  It was a look of Hope, a look of Relief, a look of Somebody is on my side.  We continued to talk about food, crop diversity, and commodity prices.  He never did come out and say thank you to Oxfam for the wonderful work they do, just as I never thanked him for doing what I believe to be one of the most important jobs.  But in that conversation we both understood, and were given reassurance that we are all in this together, and if we can just  GROW

"we will be on our way".

-A. Farag


Oxfam Action Corps at the Leaky Con

Bonnie Wright, Oxfam Ambassador, during her trip to Senegal 

What do Oxfam and Harry Potter have in common? I couldn’t come up with anything at first, but then I realized: they are both committed to making their community a better place. That’s why it made perfect sense that the Chicago Oxfam Action Corps posted up at the Leaky Con for 4 days in order to gain support for the GROW campaign.  For those of you who have no idea what I’m referencing, the Leaky Con is a 4-day annual conference held for Harry Potter enthusiasts from around the globe.  Fans come from literally all around the world to this sold-out conference to spend a long weekend among those with a similar love for Harry Potter to attend meetings, discussions, classes, concerts, plays, and more in the name of Harry Potter fandom.  One of Oxfam’s biggest connections to the Leaky Con is the wonderful Harry Potter Alliance itself.  Their Imagine Better Project is currently working on a campaign called Hunger is Not a Game, where they encourage others to pledge and support Oxfam's GROW campaign.  Additionally, one of Oxfam's very own ambassadors is the lovely Bonnie Wright, who plays Ginny Weasley in the Harry Potter movies.  It was great to be among so many others who are concerned about world hunger and willing to stop and learn a little bit about what they can do to help.

Our Goal!

Having set quite a lofty goal of getting 1,000 signatures of Leaky Con goers, Oxfam Action Corps members had their work cut out for them.  We set up our table in the vendor section of the conference, but were challenged by being placed in a far corner of the hall with semi-low fan-traffic flowing through.  Not to be discouraged, we set to the halls dressed as a banana, talking to the fans waiting in line for events about Oxfam America, the GROW campaign, the GROW method, and how they can get involved with Oxfam in their own communities.   We even joined the crowds at the Leaky Con ball on Saturday night, complete with an Oxfam sticker-skirt and banana suit.  Among the costumes, ball gowns, and “butter beer,” we managed to stand out, gather a few more signatures, and have a great time.  The enthusiasm expressed by almost everyone we approached was welcoming and encouraging, though we fell just short of our goal.  Wrapping up the weekend with a total of 698 new GROW pledgers was an amazing feeling, and all our hard work certainly paid off! 

A huge thank you to all the volunteers who came and supported us, and helped us inch closer to our goal. We could NOT have done it without all your enthusiasm, energy, and dedication! Check out the pictures below to see more of the fun:

View film from Bonnie Wright's trip to Senegal here


The GROW Method

Sunday night the world watched a team of engineers and scientists clamoring and communicating as the Curiosity headed to Mars. Upon touch down and sending its first images, the Curiosity had landed safely with functioning equipment, which established a momentous success for NASA. This special team burst into joy, grown adults in tears of happiness and laughter from relief. Enthusiasts alike across the globe watched in wonder of the possibilities, happy with the NASA team. And this happened in the midst of Olympic competitions on an international stage. As the whole world stays affixed, young teens vault into history, teams swim past old records, and runners collapse in exhaustion after making gold-worthy strides. We feel their emotion in victory and defeat. Whether for one country, one sport, or one athlete, we are all watching. As a result we are inspired in our daily lives. What keeps us all dedicated in our unity? This feeling that we are all part of something greater than us brings us closer. It keeps us fighting for the same goal, be it for scientific advancements or emotional unity as a people.

With such inspiration and unity, how easy is it for us to individually work towards a cause that can affect millions? Climate changes have increased the probability of drought. We know drought and famine occurs abroad. We make our donations and raise awareness about food policy. Our efforts through Oxfam have made a great difference. 2012 brought drought to U.S. farmers. Food prices are soaring and shortages of food sources caused Congress to force through some legislation to help farmers. But you, me, and everyone we know can do something to affect our areas. These same practices can help those abroad. The simple solution to food problems is the GROW method.

The GROW Method…what does that even mean? Aren’t we already growing or have already grown? What does this have to do with food? GROW is a new way of thinking to improve food policy, food practices and improve the overall food system on an international level. Climate change, land grabs, price of oil, discrepancies in the food trade system, inequality between men and women…all these issues lend to a broken food system. These problems seem overwhelming like the pressure at the Olympics. They also seem so far away like the Curiosity stationed on Mars. But there is a way! Oxfam developed a step by step plan for every individual to make a positive impact. With five simple concepts, anyone can help fix this broken system.

1.       Buy local

2.       Eat seasonal

3.       Save food

4.       Eat less dairy and meat

5.       Cook smart

We want to discuss the issues with you. We want you to be inspired by the power you have to change our world. Each step takes new habits to practice. In fact, you may be doing some of these already! In the upcoming weeks we will discuss each of these steps and a different issue. And we want to hear how YOU are doing as you practice the GROW method. Check out our GROW video and our Pinterest cookbook. Take on the GROW Challenge here. Share with us how you are doing. Email us at chicago.oxfamactioncorps@gmail.com.

We are excited to hear from you! We can’t wait to change our world. Here. Now.
-Megan Nakra


Chicago Oxfam Action Corps at Coldplay!

Did you know Coldplay has invited Oxfam to tour with them at all their concerts around the entire world? We’ve been thankful to be able to join them at their amazing shows for over ten years, and on August 7th and 8th Chicago Oxfam Action Corps had the opportunity to join them in Chicago!

With almost 40 volunteers over the two nights, Chicago Oxfam Action Corps took to the crowds dressed as various fruits and veggies to collect signatures in support of the GROW Campaign. It was such a fun time watching the Coldplay crowd interact with our volunteers to learn more about Oxfam and the GROW Campaign, and even cooler to see Coldplay’s lead singer, Chris Martin wearing an Oxfam button on his shirt during the show!

It’s always a bit intimidating to talk to strangers about signing our GROW pledge at first, but Rachel was a great mentor in giving all our volunteers tips and tricks about how to canvas the crowd.  By the end of the night, everyone was a pro, and Chicago was able to sign up hundreds of supports of the GROW campaign. Great job, volunteers!

Check out the photos below of our volunteers hard at work.  


These Coldplay concert-goers were wearing handmade Oxfam shirts! Awesome!

Find more photos at the Oxfam on Tour Facebook page here

Update on Sudan and South Sudan

South Sudan’s first birthday has come and gone. A stage has been set for its success; however its government struggles to establish the means for it to succeed. The building of internal infrastructures is the capstone for beginning an independent nation. Major issues derive from tensions between Sudan and South Sudan preventing strong institutions to propel both nations into stability. United Nations put a deadline for Sudan and South Sudan to resolve major military and economic issues by August 2nd. However this deadline has passed and the two independent nations remain deadlock in conversations about peace with one another. Following UN resolution 2046 from May 2, 2012, the United Nations now calls upon Secretary Ban Ki-Moon to resolve several issues between the two countries by September 2nd of this year. This established treaty specifies the need for Sudan and South Sudan to demilitarize their respective borders especially along the Abyei areas. Another major diplomatic move through UN Resolution 2047 calls for help by the UNMISS to aid in the demilitarization and increased security on the borders between these nations.

 It also focuses on resolve for oil revenue allocations between the two countries. While approximately 75% of the oil runs through South Sudan, pipes run through Sudan. Sudan demands 50-50 for revenue however South Sudan looks for numbers more representative of where the oil reserves lie. To exacerbate the situation regarding oil revenues, there have been accusations of stealing oil and no compromise in oil transportation tariffs. Safety along the borders would help peacemaking in oil revenue issues.

In considering the bright spotlight on South Sudan and Sudan to grow and come to terms with their independence, it is unfortunate to find continued strife between national governments. With almost a year of discussions, the people of both nations suffer in grim conditions, always living for the sake of survival, if that. The number of refugees moving from Sudan to South Sudan steadily rises. This is coupled with increasing distension of food shortages across the region. The United Nations and fellow partnering organizations, like Oxfam, are focusing on the deteriorating health issues. Soap, water, food and mosquito nets are among the top distribution items for refugees, many of them children. Children are at high risk of malnutrition, respiratory infection, malaria, and diarrhea. Conditions aggravated by the political and economic strife inflict wounds on the weakest of the population.

Oxfam, whose presence in Sudan since 1983 creates a positive impact on the citizens, strives to provide humanitarian effort. Long term assistance development embanks the Oxfam work to give people the opportunity to become resilient against food shortages and lack of help from the government. Projects include urbanization, educational programs, and help against famine and drought. With the influx of refugees shifting from Sudan to South Sudan and economic strain, support of these two nations by Oxfam and UN is essential to the people. Humanitarian efforts are only made possible by volunteers, donations and awareness. With Hunger Banquets and ACT FAST events, a concerned citizen in any city can help in aiding citizens of South Sudan and Sudan. You can change the world if you start here. In our action corps we strive to continue building a community for awareness and action. You can even organize your own ACT FAST event! Visit the Oxfam webpage to learn more. And keep in touch with us. Together we can support each other to change our world.

-Megan Nakra



Year One in South Sudan: Keeping Hopes for Progress

As we celebrated the birthday of America, another country just marked its first birthday a few days after. The Republic of South Sudan passed a referendum July 9, 2011 to secede from Sudan as an independent government. Two major civil wars caused rippling and devastating effects to the people, resulting in many fleeing the nation. Refugees scattered across various in attempts to stabilize their lives from the atrocities from home. Families must now start over. Imagine having to move to a land not knowing how to contact lost family members or how to start a new life. Many refugees who fled Sudan now travel back to South Sudan. First settlers into the Americas came into struggles like the people of South Sudan struggle to start new life. However, the early settlers into the Americas began life in a bountiful land of resources, whereas the refugees are coming into a land of hardship. The region of this new nation always struggled with famine, health care and overall social and economic stability.
While oil reserves remain a promising source of income for Southern Sudan, the governments of Sudan and South Sudan deliberate how to split oil reserves. War tensions remain, relegating focus from economic stability to military efforts. The central government of Southern Sudan faces daily test of providing its citizens with basic needs like food and health care. Food shortages due to drought from climate change vary year to year. To the dismay of millions, rains decreased and crops waned, exacerbating the source of food and income since 2010. The situation demands the attention of the world as a test of humanity.
Oxfam has been working with the Sudan and South Sudan region for decades. The major goals to aid the South Sudan focuses on helping refugees become independent. Specifically in South Kordofan, where continued violence and food shortages leave civilians in disarray, Oxfam distributes seeds for planting, improves supplies of clean water, protects health of livestock and helps people launch small businesses. And Oxfam affiliate based in Juba adds assistance to Jamam camps of Upper Nile state. In Darfur alone, a region experiencing high levels of severe violence and conflict, Oxfam focuses on assisting the region by:
  • providing clean water, sanitation, and hygiene program with the help of water engineers to make pumps, tanks, pipes and taps
  • ensuring camps have latrines, baths, soap, water
  • educating people regarding hygiene and keeping water safe for drinking
  • offering grants and loans to farmers and small businesses
  • empowering women with high efficiency stoves to feed families and compete with food market, while helping to protect the environment
While South Sudan is struggling on its first birthday, continued efforts will allow the country to grow. With boost in awareness of the work of Oxfam and collaborating agencies, financial support, and pressure on legislators to support the government of South Sudan, we can hope for continued independence and success in this new nation. Happy Birthday to South Sudan and to many more.

-Megan Nakra

First Person: Voices, video, and photos from Oxfam's fight against poverty

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