August 11th, 2009 | by Chris Hufstader
Here at Oxfam we are following Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s tour of Africa closely. She seems to be tackling some of the tough issues: political violence in Kenya and democratic reforms and government accountability in Angola (which just became the largest oil producer in Africa, with an economic growth rate of 18 percent). Nor is Secretary Clinton is shying away from one of the continent’s worst crises: widespread gender violence in eastern Congo, where 600 civilians have been killed and thousands of others have been raped since January. For those who are following the situation, Marcel Stoessel, Oxfam’s director in the Democratic Republic of Congo, blogged about his first-hand experience in Congo. Colleagues here at Oxfam America shot a short video about gender violence in Congo that includes some striking testimonial from Congolese women.
Tomorrow is the 60th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions, so the fact that the conflict in DR Congo is in the news seems fitting. It’s been 60 years since we set out to ensure that civilians would be protected from violence. If you want to know why the Geneva Conventions are still relevant today, think about life in the Congo—especially for women and girls.
April 21st, 2009 | by Coco McCabe
A woman and a baby walk back to a camp for displaced people in Democratic Republic of Congo.
We spent Saturday at our house burning the branches and trunk chunks from a giant pine that a pair of spider-like tree guys, with spikes on their boots, had cut down for us. We were afraid a strong wind off the river would send the old tree crashing onto our house. So, we beat the wind to it.
It took all day to burn the tangle of boughs. And as each sap-soaked armful exploded into flame, the orange and gray smoke boiling above it, I thought about some of the women I had met in Ethiopia last summer.
They were trying to survive a drought that had wiped out their crops and killed their animals, leaving them with little to eat. Loko Dadacha’s family was down to one meal a day—a government-supplied ration of wheat boiled in water. With few options for earning money, she spent hours scavenging for wood to sell, as did many of the women, hauling their heavy loads home on empty stomachs. Read the rest of this entry »
April 10th, 2009 | by Coco McCabe
Years of conflict in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo have left people facing countless hardships. Photo by Liz Lucas/Oxfam America
A new report shows a frightening spike in attacks on aid workers. Last year, 260 were killed, kidnapped, or seriously injured. That’s almost a four-fold increase since 1998 when 69 were attacked. Among those killed, the figure has more than tripled since 1998 with 122 workers losing their lives in 2008.
Numbers always have a remoteness to them—until they describe a part of your life.
These numbers do. Read the rest of this entry »
March 11th, 2009 | by Coco McCabe
In its second life, a soda bottle becomes a portable hand-washer to fight the spread of cholera in Zimbabwe.
I rode the train into work this morning with a friend who grew up in Malaysia. She now lives a comfortable life north of Boston, as do I. But we’re both keenly aware of how fleeting that comfort can be if you don’t have the means to support it. Could we, as Americans, make do with less? Read the rest of this entry »
March 3rd, 2009 | by Coco McCabe
Poking around the ReliefWeb site the other day, I stumbled on its analytics page—the place where it lists how many visitors come to the site and the kinds of information they might find there. Administered by the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, ReliefWeb bills itself as a global hub for people who need—or want—to find out what’s happening with humanitarian emergencies around the world. And guess what? In an age of supposed “compassion fatigue,” the number of visitors to the site climbed by 10 percent last year. Read the rest of this entry »
December 30th, 2008 | by Coco McCabe
As 2008 winds down, we’re highlighting photos we think best capture Oxfam’s work this year. Here is one of my favorites–with an explanation why. More to come from others.
Loko Dadacha, photographed by Sarah Livingston
In this supposed season of joy, trouble fills our world: a cholera outbreak and widespread hunger in Zimbabwe, a food crisis in Afghanistan that’s threatening five million people, bursts of violence in the eastern provinces of Democratic Republic of Congo that have forced a quarter of a million people from their homes, a conflict in Darfur that has dragged on for nearly six years and wrecked the lives of millions of Sudanese—the list goes on. And that’s the killer. Where is the hope in this bottomless pit of suffering?
I think I know. Read the rest of this entry »
May 23rd, 2008 | by Coco McCabe
Now I know what it’s like to get out of jail.
That’s the thought I had strolling down the main street in Beni a few weeks ago. It’s a town on the far eastern side of the Democratic Republic of Congo, in the heart of a region tangled for years in brutal conflict. After two weeks of traveling through the eastern provinces under strict security protocols that forbade wandering on foot and that required we be sequestered behind the thick compound walls of Oxfam guest houses or well-guarded hotels, this was something new: freedom. Read the rest of this entry »