Oxfam Comes to NEIU

Syed Ahad Hussain, Opinions Editor

Marlo Boyle addresses NEIU students.



Stephan McCullom



Photo by Syed Hussain

Oxfam is an international confederation of 15 organizations working together in over 90 countries and with partners and allies around the world to find lasting solutions to poverty and injustice. According to the organization’s official website, Oxfam, ‘work directly with communities and seeks to influence the powerful to ensure that poor people can improve their lives and have a say in decisions that affect them.’

The name “Oxfam” comes from the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief, founded in Britain in 1942. The group campaigned for food supplies to be sent through an allied naval blockade to starving women and children in enemy-occupied Greece during the Second World War. Today, there are 15 member organizations of the Oxfam international confederation. They are based in Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Ireland, India, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Quebec, Spain and the United States.

The event was organized at NEIU with the coordination of former Student Government Secretary and current Oxfam member Stephan McCollom, who invited Oxfam’s Marlo Boyle to NEIU so she could discuss the organization’s past achievements and future inspirations.

Boyle, a strong environmentalist, mentions that Oxfam provides organic resources to small community farmers globally. “We work directly with the farmers, we teach them how to grow sustainably. Due to this direct partnership we have with farmers, it helps sustain their culture, their community, and their ability to grow crops. Without having a middle man, our direct funding helps them grow their community in general so they can get more medical care, they can build more schools, and they can have greater opportunities that everyone should be able to afford,” Boyle adds.

McCollom showed a short documentary in which four women were represented as spokespeople for the farmers, business owners and as leaders of the community. “Oxfam helped those helpless, poverty-ridden women create a more sustainable plan, a better way to farm and, in case of disasters, to have food reserves built up and better access to water so they didn’t have to walk so far,” said Boyle.

The video also highlighted a woman in New Orleans who was affected by Hurricane Katrina, struggling to live without resources. Boyle pointed out this story as proof that even the developed world has a lot of issues to work on. “Oxfam needs your support to help educate others and create awareness both globally and nationally within the US…we’re trying to change the system by which food, aid and security is being delivered,” said Boyle. “That’s what the grow campaign is about, changing existing policies, changing the way that we are doing business with foreign aid so that everyone on the planet can have food, that’s really what [Oxfam] tries to focus on, to feed everyone.” Boyle added, “We currently have 9 billion hungry people, we are already in food shortage right now in areas that we shouldn’t be, because governments are controlling where the food is given and where the funds and resources are held.”

There are currently leadership opportunities in Oxfam for students interested in assisting human kind on a global scale. Internships are also available for sophomore and senior students. The internship is an all-expenses-paid week-long intensive leadership training program held in Boston. Oxfam trains interns on how to become a person of the global community and how to assist other people in their own survival. “All of us can be sisters and brothers of planet,” says McCollom, “Signing up for Oxfam doesn’t cost anything, you will go around the world, and gives you the opportunity to come and join the action court with us, where we do tabling and organize events around the city of Chicago.”

For more information about Oxfam and volunteer registration, go to Oxfam.org.