#withOxfam - Stories of Hope

Image credit: Tommy Trenchard

   For many of us, a shrug is the simple way out.

   Each time we pass a homeless man on the street, as we evade eye contact with them, we justify our actions as we believe we simply can't do anything to help them. We hear of children, at home and abroad, suffering malnutrition and, whilst it may break our hearts, we can absolve ourselves of moral responsibility by reasoning that there's just not any solution we can provide.

    Situations like these are tragic, we say to ourselves, but the best we can offer when confronted with them is a resigned "oh dear". Yet, crucially, thing don't have to be like this. We can make the world a better, less sorrowful place if we wish.

Image credit: Tommy Trenchard

   In a land far away from ours, Qassim is a barber who prides himself on his grooming ability. His profession is his passion, his trade is his art. For years he has cultivated his skill-set, cutting the hair of scores of customers who walk through his doors.

   In Iraq, however, maintaining a business has become increasingly difficult particularly since the bombs began to fall in 2003. The country never blossomed into the democratic utopia many of us prayed for when Saddam Hussein was toppled. Violent political disputes continue to errupt in pockets of the country whilst a lack of clean water, food and a stable infastructure often prove devastating to the nation's people.

   Qassim's story, intertwined with the fate of Iraq, looked certain to have an unhappy ending when an attack was launched on a nearby province in 2014. It would have been easy for the world outside to shrug one more time and exhale one further resigned "oh dear".

   But it didn't.

Image credit: Tommy Trenchard

    Oxfam GB , the international charity, heard of Qassim's plight - the Iraqi's barbershop had became over-run by new arrivals who were fleeing the turmoil of their province which led to a troublesome situation. The Kurdish police became suspicious of the hair-dresser and his new customers, ultimately placing him under arrest.

   Upon Qassim's return from captivity, his barbershop had been wrecked and his equipment, the tools of his livelihood, had been stolen. Without a way of making money, Qassim could have been resigned to destitution. Thankfully Oxfam, rather than shrugging, helped turn Qassim's tale into a story of hope.

   "Oxfam provided me with money," remembered Qassim. "They helped me to buy everything in my shop. I bought chairs, the mirrors, the machines, the creams, everything actually. My barbershop is a small shop but I like it.... I love everything about it." Rather than accepting things the way they are, the charity has helped to create change and elicit hope where there may otherwise be none.

   Yet, they can't do this alone - they need your help.

Image credit: Tommy Trenchard
   In order to continue their work in tackling global poverty, Oxfam is reaching out to ask for your assistance - together, its possible to create more stories of hope, stories like Qassim's.

   Last year alone, Oxfam were able to provide improved access to clean water - something each of us takes for granted - to over 5.4 million people. Over a quarter of a million people were supported wih investments for their crops, goods or services. Invaluable relief was provided in 51 different countries.

   To continue the fight against poverty, to help people around the globe build better lives, I humbly ask each of you, my readers, to donate what you can no matter how big or small.

   For as little as £2.50 per month, you can play a vital role in providing clean water supplies for an entire family. Or, if you're not sure what to get your loved one for Christmas, why not make a donation on their behalf?

   Please give what you can by clicking on the following link:  http://www.oxfam.org.uk/donate

Image credit: Tommy Trenchard

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