Oxfam partner worker, Zeina distributes food to vulnerable families in Beirut / Image: Sam Tarling/Oxfam

Around the world, families hit hardest by the pandemic are facing crisis levels of hunger. But through our work we have seen communities coming together as well as incredible acts of giving in our own neighbourhoods.

We’ve been so inspired, we wanted to share some stories with you of people making a difference their way, to help families across the world have food to eat. From Margaret, an Oxfam shop volunteer making up food parcels, to Mahfuza in Bangladesh supporting a food borrowing initiative. Together we can all play a part helping families get through the pandemic.

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1. Margaret’s food parcels

“When gradually everything started closing down, obviously we still wanted to do some things to be able to help.” – Margaret, Oxfam shop Frome, UK

Margaret, Oxfam shop volunteer makes up food parcels / Image: Margaret Crawshaw

Margaret Crawshaw who volunteers in our Frome shop, has been volunteering for ‘Fair Frome’, an organisation that supplies food parcels.

“We retired in Frome just under two years ago and we were looking to get involved with our community, so Oxfam was one of the things that I got involved in. I do a bit of research on the books and work on the counter which is great. When gradually everything started closing down, obviously we still wanted to do some things to be able to help. I’ve just been taken on as a volunteer with the food bank. We make up food parcels for individuals, couples and families.”

2. The booklover, his cause and a lockdown pause

“This lockdown. They don’t happen at any good time but this time, more than ever when we’re just about to hit Christmas season is really sad”.  – Scott Woolgar, Oxfam shop, Brighton, UK

Scott has worked in our Oxfam Shop in our Brighton shop for three years. The money Scott raises goes to providing emergency food and clean, safe water during a crisis. And, for people forced to flee their homes and pushed into poverty, it can give support, protection – and the chance of a new start.

Following the recent government announcement, we will be reopening our reopening our shops in England from Wednesday 2 December 2020.

3. The moment Moury will never forget

Moury Rahman, Oxfam Senior Public Health Promotion Officer, has been leading efforts to stop the coronavirus from spreading. She will never forget the moment of kindness she experienced working in Cox’s Bazar Rohingya refugee camp, Bangladesh.

Moury Rahman. Cox’s Bazar, Rohingya refugee camp, Bangladesh / Image: Fabeha Monir/ Oxfam

“I have experienced so much kindness, working as a humanitarian in a hostile environment. I can recall zillions of stories I could share, but one, in particular, left a mark on my heart.

I started my job two months after Rohingya refugees fled to Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

I could not hold my tears when many times community members would bring their only mat outside of their tiny households for us to sit on after seeing us tired and losing energy. They even used to ask us if we were hungry and would want some food, knowing that they themselves did not have enough food for their families.
Working in emergencies is challenging and considering the hostile context, it requires mental resilience to keep us motivated.

I am always astonished by the kindness of souls who survive on so little.

The kindness of the community and support we have received has helped me in my work and with my mental health. Their hospitality and warm greetings make me feel part of the community”.

4. Buvrajav learns skills to grow

Watch this video to hear from amazing Buvrajav, a grape farmer in Tajikistan. She is a member of a producers’ group that sells raisins. With Oxfam’s support, Buvrajav has learned skills to help her improve the quality of her grapes, and gained confidence and knowledge on the market value of her product.

“I see myself making more profits now. I feel confident, better, safer in the markets. My knowledge is my power”. – Buvrajav, Tajikistan

Food supplies have been disrupted around the world since the pandemic. Your support helps small scale food producers and farmers to recover from the pandemic by providing them with equipment, seedlings and business grants.

5. Ali’s community spirit

In Afghanistan, volunteers like Ali help out with Oxfam in their local community, to deliver food packages to the most vulnerable families’ doorsteps.

Ali, volunteers to help unload food packages / Image: Kiana Hayeri/Oxfam

“I have 3 older brothers working in Iran. With a sick father and only a sister with us, I am the only one who was able to come and wait all day long [for the distribution]/. The money my brothers send in, barely pays our rent. My family and I rely on this food. Otherwise, I don’t know how else I could feed my family.’ – Ali, local volunteer Afghanistan

Local Oxfam staff have been working with the World Food Programme in Afghanistan, to put together packages of food, farming support and cash to buy essentials. But there are so many families needing help, that it is hard to set up a collection system where people can stay at a safe distance. So, people in the local community volunteered with Oxfam, to deliver food packages to the most vulnerable families’ doorsteps.

Ali volunteers with Oxfam to get food to the most vulnerable families / Image: Kiana Hayeri/Oxfam

6. Mahfuza’s foodbank initiative

“I don’t like to think I could be happy while others are in trouble”. – Mahfuza, food bank member, Bangladesh.

Mahfuza is a member of the East Tengrakandi food bank, Bangladesh / Image: Saikat Mojumder / Oxfam

“It’s a good feeling to be part of the food bank. In the last three months, many families have been suffering for food, so they have been getting support from the food bank. I find peace when I think about being part of this initiative. I don’t like to think I could be happy while other are in trouble. In this time of corona, I will also need support from the food bank. More floods are coming, I’m afraid.” – Mahfuza, food bank member, Bangladesh.

The northern Bangladesh village of Gobindi is very remote and has always suffered from flooding, destroying crops and leaving many families hungry. Members of the community weren’t getting help from the government when they needed it. So, they decided to set up a food bank.

The idea is simple: during better times, each member puts aside some rice or other staples to store in the food bank. When times are tough, the families struggling the most can get food when they need it. Just a little start-up funding is all it took.

This small community group found a facility, bought some equipment and took on hunger. Now the food bank is a lifeline for families hardest hit by the pandemic. And Oxfam is working with over 275 food banks like this, in neighbouring coastal communities. And it really has brought people together.

“We care about equality. There are indigenous families living in our village. In the past, there was no relationship between them and people from other religions. But with the food bank, we have broken the taboo. Now people help each other. There are no boundaries in social relationships”. – food bank president, Md. Abdul Mannan

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