Monday, 11 April 2016

Feature: #withOxfam

Hubert and his family fled their home 
Hubert mending clothes at the Kibati camp in the DRC
Marceline making a dress
Photo credit in order: Marie Cacace (Oxfam), Marie Cacace (Oxfam), Skye Wheeler, Skye Wheeler 

My head is always caught between immaculate Instagram feeds, Asian students turning my head with flawless taste at my University and Zara window displays 
the knowledge that deep down clothes are insignificant, appearances are a tiny speckle in what makes up a person and the absurdity of the speed at which fashion trends come and go

The latter feelings are why I made a conscious decision to put any fashion-related career aspirations to the side and concentrate on my other, arguably greater, passion: Chinese. I've found my intellectual, visual, gastronomical and sartorial needs fulfilled in this physical and conceptual place. 
My blog, although currently a bit neglected due to 8 weeks until my last exam at university, is still one of my favourite things to do and a source of creativity that I appreciate. I've been considering expanding it a little with maybe longer articles and more of an emphasis on sustainable fashion. 

Which is why I was so excited to be contact by Oxfam to write on a sustainable fashion post. Oxfam are currently running a program of Bloggers Against Poverty, especially with a case study of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). 

As you may or may not know, the DRC is recovering from decades of war-torn conflict. Many of the DRC population fled the violence in search of safety. There are more than 55,000 people in the Kibati camp. Oxfam provides water for the camp but, due to the nature of their flee, many people arrived at the camp with nothing, least of all ways to provide for their families. 

Hubert (name changed) and Marceline, however, brought one vital possession with them: their sewing machine. In the few moments Hubert had to flee his house, he made the tough decision to bring his heavy Singer sewing machine hoping that it might help him make a living to feed his family on arrival at Kibati camp. In his own words, "I knew I had to take it with me. I was here back in 2009 without any means to survive and I did not want to put my family in this situation again". He charges 100 Congolese francs (approx. 8 pence) for his services but at least it is enough to feed his wife, mother and two children once a day. 
Marceline Habyarimana is a tailor. Like Hubert, she also fled the fighting with her sewing machine, carrying it to the camp the whole way on her head. Her husband carried the table with the foot pedal that operates the machine. Whereas Hubert mends clothes, Marceline makes dresses for about 1500 Congolese Francs (under £1.50). Clients come from nearby Goma town with the cloth that she then tailors. The people in Kibati camp rarely have enough money to pay for a new dress so she relies on the people from Goma. 

Oxfam helps people across the world by providing safe water, sanitation equipment and hygiene 
essentials in an emergency. The award-winning ‘Oxfam bucket’ includes essentials from soap to sanitary towels, to help people who may have lost everything to stay clean and healthy. They also run training sessions to teach people new skills such as sewing, tailoring and, basket making.
Most importantly, Oxfam encourages national initiatives and increased regional and international 
political engagement which has led to important advances and new agreements to resolve conflict 
and insecurity in places like the DRC.

What a Regular Donation Can Do
- £2.50 can provide 25 water treatment sachets to a family in an emergency. This is enough to make around 500 litres of water safe: enough to last a family of four for a month. 
- £5 can provide 20 Award winning ‘Oxfam buckets’ which allow people to access clean water without risk of contamination by dirt and disease, as it has a closable lid and a tap.
A regular gift to Oxfam changes lives around the world. By giving a monthly donation you can help 
transform whole communities, for good. To donate, please follow this link:


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