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DEVELOPMENT REPORT – Oxfam - 2003-07-13

Broadcast: July 14, 2003

This is the VOA Special English Development Report.

From time to time we examine different organizations involved in development and relief work around the world. This week we tell about Oxfam. Oxfam is an independent British organization. The group works in poor communities with local organizations. It says it tries to find permanent answers to poverty and suffering. It says every human being has the right to self-respect and a chance to succeed.

Oxfam was formed in nineteen-forty-two. The organization was part of an effort in Britain to get food and medical supplies to starving people in Greece. At that time, Nazi Germans occupied the country. Allied forces had ordered a naval blockade in the Mediterranean. Groups formed in Britain to urge the government to let humanitarian aid get through. One of the groups was called the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief.

After World War Two, Oxfam decided to continue on and extend its aid to more than just war victims. It saw a need for humanitarian relief in all parts of the world.

Today, Oxfam has programs in more than seventy developing countries. It says that in each case, it employs local people who know the issues affecting their communities. Oxfam also carries out education campaigns and policy work. It says it wants to make sure governments and international organizations understand the problems that face the world’s poor.

Oxfam depends on money from supporters to operate. A committee governs the organization with the help of a lower-level group. The members of the two committees are not paid. A chief executive supervises the daily operations of Oxfam.

Over the past fifty years, Oxfam has carried out numerous projects. It has helped communities to set up schools. The organization will pay for building classrooms and for equipment and teacher-training programs. Oxfam has helped communities improve their health services and water supplies. And it trains local people to teach others in their villages about cleanliness and healthy foods.

Oxfam says poverty is not a fact of life but instead an injustice that must be overcome. For more than half a century, it has been working alongside other international aid organizations to help make this happen.

This VOA Special English Development Report was written by Jill Moss.