First Person

5 things to be thankful for right now

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Community health volunteers in Clara Town, a township north of Monrovia, Liberia, are going door to door to help fight Ebola. Photo: Pablo Tosco/Oxfam

Even in a year as tough as 2014, there have been a few bright moments. Here are five positive stories that you helped make possible.

Have you ever wanted to tune out, turn off your devices, and just stop reading the news? I confess that I’ve been tempted to do so this year, even though it’s my job to be aware of—and write about—world events. From the Ebola outbreak to seemingly endless conflicts in the Middle East, the headlines of 2014 felt like one long litany of sadness and disaster.

Fortunately, there have been a few bright moments in recent months. And in each case, people like you helped make these gains possible. These are small victories, and of course none will single-handedly solve poverty, disease, hunger, or any of the world’s other problems. But at least we can look at them and say, “Something good is happening” or “We’re making progress.”

And at a time when we Americans give thanks for what we have, that just might be enough to be grateful for.


Volunteer health workers are preventing Ebola

Supported by Oxfam and your donations , community health volunteers are fanning out across parts of Sierra Leone and Liberia to educate families about Ebola and the importance of early treatment. Because they reach places where many people lack access to the internet or can’t read, the volunteers’ efforts are crucial to preventing the spread of this deadly disease. “I’m a housewife, but I volunteer to do community health work because of our people—to save their lives,” said Sierra Leone’s Mary Kamara


World leaders are taking steps to address climate change

Thousands marched for climate action in New York City this fall. Photo: Kaoru Inoue/Oxfam America

In a decade when communities from the Philippines to New Jersey have battled climate-related disasters, our leaders may finally be listening to public demand for action on climate change. A few weeks after tens of thousands of people like you joined climate marches around the globe, we saw landmark commitments from President Obama and other world leaders to both reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions and to step up investments to help poor communities adapt.


Typhoon survivors are rebuilding their country

Carpenter and chainsaw operator Larry Tondo builds a kiosk to sell coconut lumber in Leyte, Philippines. Oxfam partnerned with coconut farmers after Typhoon Haiyan to help them remove damaged trees and turn the wood into lumber for sale. Photo: Eleanor Farmer/Oxfam

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines. Thanks to your support, Oxfam’s large-scale relief effort has since helped 868,960 people, providing everything from hygiene kits to mosquito nets. And while challenges remain, many Filipinos are now working hard to restore their homes, businesses, and farms. As fisherman Jim Acosta put it: “We are helping each other to start rebuilding our lives.”


A lifeline for Somalis is staying intact

This year, Oxfam, concerned Americans , and other groups have been fighting to ensure that US government regulations don’t prevent hard-working Somali-Americans from sending vital funds home to their families. Merchants Bank of California recently announced it would not close the accounts of Somali-American money transfer operators —a move that could have put many of them out of business and threatened a lifeline for millions in East Africa. The Obama administration listened too, and now the Treasury Department is revising its policies to reassure banks that they can continue to work with companies that send money all over the world.


Fewer people are going hungry

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You may have seen the announcement from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization earlier this fall: the number of people experiencing chronic hunger worldwide has dropped from 842 million to 805 million, or about one in nine people on Earth. While that’s still 805 million too many, it’s nonetheless a sign of progress.

And since a big part of fighting hunger is education, it’s worth mentioning that this month Oxfam supporters like you are hosting events around the country to help others understand hunger’s root causes—and to fight back. Hunger is far from solved, but these are steps in the right direction.

Are there any other recent positive stories we’ve overlooked? Let us know in the comments below.

Although 2014 was marked by many crises, the support of people like you has given people around the world the resources they need to make profound changes in their communities. Be part of lasting change: Make a tax-deductible year-end gift today. Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Google+