Sunday, April 13, 2014

2014 Kick-off meeting & Oxfam Action Corps go to DC!

Calling for all Oxfam supporters: We will be hosting our first kick-off meeeting on Tuesday April 22nd @ 6:30 pm in Amy's Cafe (414 W Gilman). We will socialize over Amy's happy hour while discussing Oxfam's GROW campaign and volunteer/action opportunities in Madison! Come and meet new lead organizers and others who are - or want to be - involved in local Oxfam activities!

Speaking of new organizers, last week Yoli and Alice joined their fellow organizers from 14 different cities in DC to go through a very intensive organizer training and to get experience lobbying on Capitol Hill. Alice and Yoli met with staffers of Senators Baldwin and Johnson and Congressman Pocan to ask for more aid (increase foreign aid funding) and better aid (support a bill that would introduce a uniform evaluation of aid use and make the data publicly available). We will be following up with the three offices in the upcoming week - and we'll keep you updated!

Yoli and Alice in front of Senator Baldwin's office

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

You know Oxfam, you love Oxfam, now lead Oxfam in your hometown

Leadership opportunity:  Organize in your community to end global hunger – join the Oxfam Action Corps! 

Oxfam America, an international relief and development organization, invites you to play a leading role in the Oxfam Action Corps, an exciting grassroots effort to stand up to poverty, hunger, and injustice around the world – starting right in your community.  The Oxfam Action Corps is a group of trained grassroots advocates in fifteen US cities who organize with other local volunteers in support of our GROW campaign for policies that will save lives, defend the rights of women and farmers, and protect communities worldwide from rising food prices and climate change.  It includes a free national advocacy and leadership training for select participants. You will gain leadership skills, have fun, and change the world!

Sign-up by February 14 to apply for Oxfam’s free four-day leadership training in Washington D.C. April 5-8, 2014.  

"This is leadership in practice. You can't just read a book on leadership. You have to put it into practice." - Jill Mizell, Researcher, New York

“Oxfam Action Corps has given me a ton of confidence… Gaining knowledge and being able to speak to people about the issues.”  - Amy L., Business Operations Analyst, Des Moines

"This has become one of the best parts of my life… I can't express enough how satisfying it is to be organizing with people who are just as committed and dependable and passionate. It is so great to have the support from the Oxfam America staff, and I've been really impressed by their accessibility, competency and friendliness." – Isaac E., Educator, New York City

View and share the short video below, highlighting the great work done by the Action Corps.

Sign up at by February 14

Our Voices Have Been Heard: Coca-Cola Agrees to Zero Tolerance Policy for Land Grabs

Here is a great post from the Action Corps in the San Francisco Bay area, highlighting our work and success with the campaign!

Original post can be found at:

Our Voices Have Been Heard: 

Coca-Cola Agrees to Zero Tolerance Policy for Land Grabs


Ladies and Gentlemen, our hard work is paying off! All of our hours spent volunteering, campaigning, speaking out, and signing petitions is showing fruition. Over 225,000 people called for action to prevent land grabs and Coca-Cola has heard us. The food and beverage giant Coca-Cola has agreed to respect and protect the land rights of indigenous communities from which it sources its sugar. Specifically, Coca-Cola has agreed to:

  1. A zero tolerance policy on land grabs
  2. A “know and show” policy relating to being held accountable and aware of land rights and conflicts within its supply chain
  3. To support responsible agriculture investment and to advocate for governments and others to tackle land grabbing;
Sugar production requires a vast amount of land and is currently at an all time high triggering land conflicts and abuse. Coca-Cola is the largest sugar producer in the world making this news all the more amazing. Coca-Cola is the first beverage and food company to take such a stand, but should not be the last. For more information on this breaking news visit

Our mission and work does not end here. PepsiCo and Associated British Foods are some of the largest sugar producers in the world and as such we are urging them to follow in Coca-Cola’s footsteps and make a change in relation to the allowance of land grabs within their supply chains. In order to do this we need your help.

What Can You Do to Stop This?

Start by signing Oxfam's current petition to urge Pepsi-co and Associated British Foods to follow Coca-Cola’s example and hold themselves accountable for the land and human rights atrocities occurring in their supply chains. These huge companies have the market power to pressure their suppliers into committing to zero tolerance land grab policies and you have the power to pressure these food and beverage giants into stepping up and standing against land grabs. Make sure your voice is heard.

Then share the following messages:

Via Twitter

Tell @PepsiCo & #ABF to take action against land grabs! #BehindTheBrands

Via Facebook

Post the following message to PepsiCo's Facebook page

Stop land grabs! Tell PepsiCo and ABF—some of the biggest buyers of sugar in the world—to make sure their sugar doesn’t lead to land grabs that force poor farmers and their families off their land. #BehindTheBrands!

Typhoon Haiyan: Relief and Rehabilitation

This week, we are sharing a post from Oxfam Action Corps NYC volunteer Nikko Viquiera. Read on for his personal take on the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan and the steps towards recovery.

When news of a super typhoon about to hit central Philippines started coming out last month, many Filipinos, including me, shrugged it off and went on with our regular schedule, knowing that country gets an average of 22 typhoons annually. A day after the typhoon came; news outlets reported less than a hundred dead people. People thought it could have been worse and were glad that it wasn’t as big of a tragedy as other major typhoons have been in the past.

Days later, nothing could have prepared us for the breadth and depth of the devastation caused by typhoon Haiyan. To date, over 5,000 people and counting are dead and 10 million other Filipinos have been affected in one way or another.

As a former Program Officer for Jesuit Volunteers Philippines (JVP), I used to visit volunteers in Samar, one of the hardest hit regions by the typhoon. JVP sends volunteers to marginalized communities around the country to serve as educators, youth formators and community organizers. One such community is Lawaan in Eastern Samar. It was a small, quiet town by the sea, where many fish and farmed for a living. I would visit the parish school where volunteers where assigned as educators for high school students. The community would always be very welcoming, serving me the best food and accommodation they had to offer when they did not have much.

One afternoon, I remember some of the students in the Parish school invited me to ring the 6:00 pm bell. We climbed the bell tower beside the Church, just as the sun was beginning to set. As I rang the bells that echoed through the town, the sun began to set on the people going home after a day’s work, on the children playing in the streets and the coconut trees that stood as tall as the bell tower.

Today, most of the town has been destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan. The once mighty coconut trees have fallen, along with many houses, the school and the church. A more recent picture shows that only the bell tower remains standing amidst a sea of debris and destruction.

And so it is for many other towns ravaged by the typhoon in Eastern Samar, Palawan and Cebu. Dead bodies are everywhere, waiting for surviving relatives to recognize and claim them. Just this week, 120 bodies were discovered under the San Juanico Bridge, the longest one in the country. Reports describe residents walking around aimlessly like zombies. They are dazed and confused, with no work to do and no house to go home to. As such, many have flown to cities such as Manila in search of jobs, anything to get away from the rubble of their previous lives, only to find themselves homeless and jobless in a city that can be as unkind and apathetic as a typhoon.

Yet in the darkness of the devastation shines the generosity of people. More developed countries such as the US, Japan, Australia and the United Kingdom have pledged millions of dollars in relief. Relief agencies such as Oxfam, Red Cross and Catholic Relief Services were quick to respond and have been present in the region since Day 1.Oxfam Pilipinas, in particular, through the generous donations of people all over the world, has been working to provide clean water and sanitation to victims of the typhoon. Individuals and small groups have organized themselves and made efforts to raise funds for the victims of the typhoon. In Manila, people have offered to take turns feeding and keeping those, who left their homes in search of livelihood, stranded in the airports company.

But as news of the typhoon and its deadly effects begin to fade in the news, the more difficult task of rebuilding and rehabilitation is just starting. How does one rebuild thousands of houses, roads and structures from the ground up, all at the same time? How do we bring back livelihood to towns where even trees no longer stand? How do we begin to bring back hope to those who are still counting their dead and their losses? How do we begin anew?

A month has passed since the typhoon killed thousands of people and left survivors hungry, homeless and jobless. And yet many groups and individuals continue to work in the Haiyan areas, this time with a focus on rehabilitation. Oxfam, for example, has distributed rice seeds to rural areas to help farmers earn income again.

Many have pointed to the resilience of the Filipino people to withstand any tragedy as the main key to rehabilitation. But as Christmas nears, and the tenuous task of rehabilitation unfolds before us, we realize that resilience is not enough. We also need critical minds, calm spirits and skilled, tireless hands that move together like waves in strength and unison.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Food Aid Reform: we have a change to increase effectiveness in food aid


 As I am writing this to you, in the Hill conversations about the reform in the foreign aid budget, proposed by the President last March are proliferating.  The importance of this reform is not due to an increase or decrease in funding, but rather, a change in the allocation of the money.  Out of the close to 1% of the Federal budget allocated to Foreign aid, 55% is for international development and humanitarian assistance.   

Currently the all the food used to assist people in need oversees is purchased in the US, and eventually shipped to these countries.  The President proposal, ask to take a 45% of the humanitarian money and used to buy food within the country or close countries where the need exists.  This will help in the effectiveness of the aid provided, by getting food quicker to affected areas, buying more cultural appropriate foods, and by helping the local economies (one component for sustainability).  OXFAM calculated that 17 million more people will get food with this small change in the budget without additional cost to taxpayers.

 I can go on and on, but I will stop here. If you want more information, please see the attached documents, listen to the PBS interview with former USAID Administrator Andrew Natsios and Ellen Levinson from the Alliance for Global Food Security, or visit OXFAM America.

The window of time we have to push this request is very short, so please take a couple of minutes to sign the petition...

Thank you! Have a great week!

Mariela Quesada
2013 Madison- OXFAM  Action Corps

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Half The Sky and More!

Hello, wonderful Do-Gooders!

As Miss Spring finally unveils her beautiful face here in Madison, Wisconsin, much is happening around the world to change how farmers are treated, in part thanks to YOU!

CHANGE Leaders and Oxfam Clubs were a big part of the more than 81,000 people who asked big cocoa companies to adopt pro-women policies throughout their supply chains, as part of the Behind the Brands initiative. Mars and Nestle listened and agreed to the reforms – a  victory for Oxfam and, more importantly, thousands of women cocoa farmers and their families around the world – and you helped make it happen. Check out and learn more by watching Oxfam’s recap video of this action.

From the webpage above: “Women cocoa farmers and consumers around the globe have made their voices heard,” said Alison Woodhead, manager for Oxfam’s Behind the Brands campaign. “Mars and NestlĂ© have taken important steps to show the farmers they rely on, their customers, and the rest of the food industry that they care about the conditions women face in their supply chains.”

Let's keep up the success that the Behind the Brands Campaign is already seeing. There is a lot more that we can change when we work together and make our voices heard.

In other news, the screening of Half the Sky (Part 1) was a huge success, and thus by popular demand part 2 will be shown on Tuesday, April 9th and 7pm at UW Madison's The Marquee Theatre, Union South. This free showing is open to the public.
Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide is a four-hour television series for PBS and international broadcast, shot in 10 countries: Cambodia, Kenya, India, Sierra Leone, Somaliland, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Liberia and the U.S. Inspired by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn's book, the documentary series introduces women and girls who are living under some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable and fighting bravely to change them. Traveling with intrepid reporter Nicholas Kristof and A-list celebrity advocates America Ferrera, Diane Lane, Eva Mendes, Meg Ryan, Gabrielle Union and Olivia Wilde, the film reflects viable and sustainable options for empowerment and offers an actionable blueprint for transformation. -Official Website

We hope to see you there and at our upcoming meeting, April 25th at 6pm in the Memorial Union! Please stay tuned for more ways to get involved!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Support Women Cocoa Farmers!

Happy (Belated) International Women's Day!

As many of you know, yesterday was International Women's Day. To celebrate, Oxfam Action Corps around the country held action to ask people to urge Mars, Nestle, and Mondelez to treat their women cocoa farmers better- better pay, fairer treatment, opportunities for training, the chance to own the land they work, and more. Sweets with wrappers urging people to take action were given out, conversations were had, and signatures were gathered. The above-freezing and sunny weather made it a fun day for all involved.
Our re-vamped packages of Oreos were a big hit.

 Read more and take action here.

Passerbys we also urged to check out what the Behind the Brands initiative (part of Oxfam’s GROW campaign) is about. Behind the Brand ranks the policies of big food companies on important issues like treatment of workers and farmers, equality for women, land, clean water, climate change, and transparency. The folks behind the scenes at Oxfam have spent over a year doing research on this information. We hope that consumer pressure can coerce the Big Brands (who control the supply chain) to adopt fairer expectations for the production of their products, such as in the case of women cocoa farmers.

We also had a successful Hunger Banquet with WUD on Thursday night. Thanks to all who attended and to the WUD Alternative Breaks Committee for their hard work helping to put the event together!

Have a beautiful day! Together, we can make a difference!


Kat De Losh