十年回望,泥土芬芳

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7912 Yang Jixiang

波多羅村民楊繼香買了幾頭犛牛來飼養,增加收入。

「昨天傍晚,老村長在自己家裡,安詳地走了……」今年4月我正在貴州農村訪點,當收到合作夥伴綠色流域的員工雲楓從波多羅村傳來的短信時,我不禁悵然若失。劉文坤老村長雖然走了……他的樣子仍然清晰地留在我腦海中。那刻,我記起他居住過,位於滇西北、掩映于雪峰蒼林中的波多羅村,想起我們曾經一起為波多羅村奮鬥過,一起克服這條彝族村在發展過程中遇到的種種困難。思緒翻飛,近10年的風雨歷程又再一一呈現。

圖/文:劉源  農業和扶貧政策經理

雲南省麗江市玉龍縣拉市海濕地面積雖然不大,僅有區區9平方公里湖面,匯水面積約260平方公里。因為片面追求經濟發展,導致無論是湖畔村寨還是山上村莊,都遭受不同程度的生態環境破壞。地處山區水源處的波多羅彝族村,生計更因此而陷入困頓無著,村民們為爭奪資源而時有內鬥,本土文化式微難以為繼的多重困境……凡此種種,都是當今中國不同地方社區共同面臨的困境。

十年耕耘換來的改變

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村民生態旅遊合作社婦女小組在村口迎接客人。

2006年,我加入樂施會來到麗江玉龍縣拉市鄉,與合作夥伴綠色流域、當地納西族和彝族社區共同促進生態環境恢復和社區減貧發展。在「拉市海小流域綜合治理」的項目下,世代居住在湖畔多個納西村莊、山上水源地的彝族寨子的男女老幼,齊心參與各項生態修復及發展工作。不知不覺,10年時光飛逝,而大家的努力耕耘,亦換來難得的成果。

10多年來,樂施會支持合作夥伴綠色流域深耕於當地。納西村莊的用水戶協會、漁業協會、混農林治理、婦女夜校等;山上彝族村寨的婦女小額信貸、高山替代生計發展、生態旅遊合作社、社區防災減災、社區青年後備力量培育等,一步一個腳印,不冒進不強求,從當地具體情況和實際需求入手,從無到有再到枝繁葉茂,始終秉承的理念是:減貧的目標遠遠不止是增加村民的收入,更重要是如何令社區和自然環境和諧共處,又如何扶助村莊的自發組織能良好運作,還能夠如何激發村民自我發展能力,並不斷提高此能力。quote

我們高興地看到大夥兒,日子一天一天地好起來,路開通了、水和電都接到村了,藏式火爐替代了傳統火塘[1],婦女的健康狀況大為改善。10年來,拉市海的改善工作,成積有目共睹。拉市雪桃因為味美質優,銷售進了北京的人民大會堂;越冬的水鳥被生態環境所吸引重返拉市濕地;波多羅寨子被民政部評為「防災減災示範社區」,全村保護了4萬畝山林,野生動物重現繁茂森林中。

村民內心的轉變令人興奮

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作者與村民開會,一起商討如何改善生態環境,增加收入。

物質生活的提升當然令人興奮,但更令人高興的是看到當地村民發自內心的轉變。10年來,我目睹西湖村的阿六叔有理有據同公司企業談判捍衛自身權利,夏表叔等社區骨幹將用水戶協會一筆筆帳目向全體村民詳細說明、接受質詢;我又見證到年富力強的劉正偉接過老村長的班,繼續帶領村民建設家園;亦高興看到劉雁這個原本懵懂無知的青少年的長大,並立志建設家鄉;更留意到語言不通、羞於同外界接觸的婦女們,慢慢轉變成是村莊治理小組的骨幹成員;而令我最感受深刻的是,彝族村民們在項目發展過程中始終堅持公平與共用的原則,村民們更在發展過程中逐漸習慣通過協商、共治來達成一致意見。

心態的轉變是一過漸變的過程,猶如一次躑躅於田野的漫長跋涉。我和同事們見證過村民們面對自然災害衝擊時的困苦與無助;親眼看到鄉親們在這3,000多米海拔山區的胼手胝足辛勞耕作 ;享受過寒夜裡火塘邊的溫暖和香噴噴的烤洋芋 ;體會過村民生活和環境重煥光彩的幸福;分享過婦女們學會寫自己名字的欣喜;當然,也經歷過流域管理小組經過激烈討論,難以達成一致時的面紅耳赤……

漫山開遍的高山杜鵑

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波多羅村的高山杜鵑

最初進入波多羅村工作,更多理解這是一項「任務」、一個「項目」。但在這片山水間、村莊裡經歷了這麼多,所有的收穫和體驗早已超越了「項目管理」所能賦予我的意義和價值。這些經歷猶如學校,淬鍊我成長為一個接地氣、有根有葉的發展工作者;也滋養我始終秉持尊重社區多元文化的初心。老村長在高山杜鵑盛開的春季離去,令我想起這生命力旺盛、 在春盡夏臨時漫山遍野怒放的高山杜鵑,不正是老村長及當地村民的恰當寫照嗎?若你也有幸來到波多羅村,看到這些顏色驚豔的高山杜鵑,若你有幸與村村民相遇和相伴,請珍惜,也請銘記!

[1]火塘是西南少數民族傳統燒火、取暖的地方。在傳統彝族人家裡,火塘是永不熄滅的,既有實用功能,也有信仰意義。如不能對火塘不敬、不潔等。

後記:麗江玉龍縣拉市鄉波多羅村的老村長,大名劉文坤,彝族名為蔔海,他是波多羅村的主心骨,在當地彝人心目中德高望重的長者。2015年,老村長見證到在樂施會推薦下,憑藉多年耕耘於拉市海小流域綜合治理領域的突出貢獻,「綠色流域」從全球1,400多家候選者中脫穎而出,獲得聯合國開發計畫署(UNDP)頒發的「赤道獎」,這是當年全球21家獲獎機構之一,也是中國唯一一家。頒獎詞中說到:「該機構的努力保護了當地社區大片山林,引入混農林生產提高村民收入,禁止使用非法網具以保護當地漁業資源,還促進了水資源在村莊裡的合理分配與使用,所有這些努力都有效促進了當地的收入提升、糧食安全保障和回應災害時的社區韌性。」

IMG_0351 resized劉源為文化人類學博士,自然保護區管理博士後。2006年加入樂施會,現為農業和扶貧政策經理。多年來專注於社區項目經驗總結與分享,以及國家重點扶貧政策研究與倡導。自2007年至今一直參與樂施會對「拉市海小流域綜合治理系列項目」的支援與管理。她相信減緩貧困是朝向一個更公平、公正和透明社會的必經之路,在樂施會的工作不僅促進貧困人群生活福祉的提高,更重要是協助草根民眾自身能力的激發和提升。

劉源於工餘時間推動「小泥屋讀書會」,致力於培育NGO青年人以多元視角看世界並陪伴他們成長。劉源亦是一名馬拉松愛好者,享受以腳步親近一個個陌生城市。

《樂施毅行者的一股信念》

2015-02-13 19.38.15 (low-re)

文/圖: 李國鵬

初來報到,到樂施會的第一項任務,就是構思新一年的海報設計和口號。

找靈感的時候,腦海不斷問自己,樂施毅行者是甚麼?

2015-02-13 18.32.23 (low-re)是一項很成功的大型籌款活動,是一項歷史悠久的戶外活動。

是一次艱巨的挑戰,五星難度的行山路程。

甚至,是一個「勁難」報名參加的活動,是一個需要「出賣」朋友捐款和支援的行山活動。

這些片面的形象,或許大家都曾經擁有。

頒獎禮的盛況,除了感謝各參加者的支持外,也是一個與各路毅行精英交流的好機會。

頒獎禮的盛況,除了感謝各參加者的支持外,也是一個與各路毅行精英交流的好機會。

到後來和負責籌辦活動的同事交流多了,又於2月舉辦的頒獎禮中有機會和不同的WALKER交談,親睹他們的風采,我才慢慢的領略到在樂施毅行者的背後,其實是一股信念。

是克服挑戰的自信,是和拍檔並肩作戰的團隊精神。

是回饋社會的使命感,是資深毅行者鼓勵年輕參加者的熱情。

那種和隊友及支援隊伍一齊灑熱汗、一齊開心一齊喊之動人,難怪會有這麼多參加者完成活動時誓神劈願說「絕不會有下次」,下一年又總會看見他們的蹤影!

其中一次的試鏡花絮,最終的海報會怎樣?還是留待大家拭目以待啦!

其中一次的試鏡花絮,最終的海報會怎樣?還是留待大家拭目以待啦!

從前負責編輯圖書或舉行宣傳活動,早已明白沒有一本好的圖書或一項成功的活動是靠自己獨力完成的。只是,樂施毅行者的規模還是超乎意料。要順利舉行,需要各政府部門、贊助商、機構同事和義工等等的攜手合作。

這是「傳說中」的設計圖,難得有同事看得明白呢!:D

這是「傳說中」的設計圖,難得有同事看得明白呢!:D

別的不說,單單是這個海報和口號構思,也教自己和相關的同事費煞思量!趁這個機會我真的要多謝中、英文編輯和設計師的「給力」。到實際拍攝和製作時,我們可能要走過五、六個山頭取景,還要冒著烈日的煎熬,以及下雨天白走一趟的風險,才有大家即將見到的精美海報。

說著說著,我們第一次的實地視察將在今個星期五進行,但今天天氣還是陰沉沉的。我知道大家都想周末有個好天氣去遊玩的,一於就跟我一起展現強大信念,一齊唸:「星期五好天氣、星期五好天氣、星期五好天氣……」

6W6C6053李國鵬 | 樂施會傳訊幹事,於2014年12月才加入樂施會大家庭的NGO新鮮人

Thousands of Syrian refugees battle a winter storm with limited means

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Photo: Oriol Andrés Gallart/Oxfam
Strong winds blew the roof off the shelter that housed Yehia, a farmer from Syria, and his family.

 

As the icy driving rain leaked into their flimsy tent and the blustering wind rocked their makeshift home in Chekka northern Lebanon, wide-eyed Raneem, 6, huddled against her mother, unable to sleep. A major storm is sweeping through the region bringing new misery to thousands of Syrian refugees like Raneem.

According to media reports, the storm has already claimed the lives of four refugees. For young Raneem and others, they have little protection from the cold. Ayman a refugee from Syria told Oxfam, ‘Our children are all sick. The cold is unbearable, and we have no means to keep them warm.’

In Lebanon, coastal areas have been battered by waves and howling winds.  Deep snow has blanketed settlements in which refugees live, blocking roads and isolating towns leaving people without access to urgent medical care. Under the weight of the heavy snowfall, tents have caved in, and water tanks have frozen.

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Photo: Oriol Andres/Oxfam
Sandals offer little protection to the feet of children in a refugee settlement in northern Lebanon.

In Jordan, extreme weather conditions have also hit Zaatari refugee camp, the country’s largest with more than 80,000 inhabitants. Children, wearing plastic summer shoes, try to jump between icy puddles, as men shovel snow from above tents and caravans. ‘We are in desperate need of caravans, we cannot live in tents anymore’, said Abu Ayman.

Weeks ago, Oxfam had started preparing for the winter season by distributing plastic sheets and cash vouchers in Lebanon, and digging trenches around tents in Zaatari to avoid them being flooded by the rain. Evacuation plans had been put in place too, in close coordination with other agencies. But as the storm endures, refugees are in desperate need of food, water and shelter.

In both Lebanon and Jordan, Oxfam is ramping up our aid response to keep Syrian refugees warm through the cold weather. We are working with partners in Lebanon to ensure families can rebuild damaged tents with plastic sheets, and distributing hygiene kits that include soap, nappies and sanitary pads to ensure people can meet their basic needs. While in Jordan, our teams will be addressing the most pressing water and sanitation needs.

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Photo: Oriol Andres/Oxfam
Six-year-old Raneem huddles near a stove in her family’s shelter in northern Lebanon.

For Raneem and others facing their fourth winter in exile, this help goes a long way. But with no end in sight of the bloody conflict, and governments increasingly closing their borders to vulnerable Syrian refugees, Raneem has no choice but to huddle against her mother and pray the storm ends.

Safe water and sanitation making waves in DPRK

Photo: Kate Lee

By: Kate Lee and Praphulla Shrestha

On 24 October, four days after we arrived in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), officials announced that they would quarantine foreigners for 21 days over fears of the spread of the Ebola virus. Having flown in from Beijing just days before, we were happy that we were able to arrive in Pyongyang just in time.

We visited DPRK as Oxfam’s monitoring and evaluation team to assess Oxfam’s and our international partner’s, Triangle Génération Humanitaire (TGH), work there. Together, Oxfam and TGH developed and implemented a programme to improve the sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities for people living in Sohung, a county in North Hwanghae province.

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Photo: Olivier Hariot
Public and hospital latrines for people with disabilities.

During the first phase of the programme, pipelines were installed in five out of ten districts in Sohung City, providing 15,000 people with clean drinking water. A further 5,100 students and teachers benefited from the improved sanitation facilities, such as new latrines. These helped to address the needs of all children, and lessened the amount of time girls need to wait to use the facilities. With these new latrines, we were also able to replace the ones that were being used, which were unsafe, easily contaminated and had been used for the past 20 odd years. Besides these improvements, our hygiene promotion activities were able to reach 32,000 people thereby enhancing their health knowledge and practices.

district 1

Photo: Olivier Hariot
Water in a household in District 1.

It was quite heartening to see how this work was improving the local people’s lives, especially the lives of the women there. Being the main caregivers, women are in charge of taking care of family members; this includes carrying enough water for the whole family from the well every day. For some women who live higher up in their building, this could even mean walking up a further five floors. However, the water that these women carry home isn’t always clean. Since the water from the well is near the ground, it’s easily contaminated, meaning people often get sick because of it. Speaking with Mrs. Chong, a resident of Sohung City, we heard how things have changed for her:

‘I used to use a hand pump to fetch water for my family. It was time consuming and because the water quality was not good, diarrhea was very common. With the newly established drinking water supply system, we now have a tap at home and diseases because of unclean water, such as diarrhoea, have become less common. It is very good that we have a new piped water supply system’.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Photo: Kate Lee
Pumping station to provide residents in Sohung with water.

With safe water and sanitation making such a positive impact on residents’ lives, we plan to continue working with TGH to extend the programme to its second phase, which will benefit more than 11,300 people directly, provide three out of ten districts in Sohung City with sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities, as well as reach around 100,000 people in Sohung County through hygiene promotion. Through this initiative, we hope to further decrease morbidity and mortality rates, and bring clean water to the homes of more in the DPRK.

 

praphulla


Kate Lee is a Humanitarian and Disaster Risk Management Programme Officer at Oxfam Hong Kong, and Praphulla Shrestha is a WASH Coordinator at Oxfam Australia.

外商農業投資引發社會爭議

Copy of 097文/圖:李育成

我在三月遠赴老撾,除了探訪當地農戶,更重要的是把外商農業投資帶來的影響,與當地政府官員、學者和非政府組織人士一起開會,討論如何長遠地落實規管外商農業投資的法律,保障小農戶及其社區環境的基本權利。

樂施會老撾辦公室國家項目總監Dominique Van Der Borght先生(右)發表開幕辭,左邊為合作夥伴老撾國立大學農業學院副院長Silinthone Sacklokham博士。

樂施會老撾辦公室國家項目總監Dominique Van Der Borght先生(右)發表開幕辭,左邊為合作夥伴老撾國立大學農業學院副院長Silinthone Sacklokham博士。

在老撾,得到當地政府政策上的支持,對落實企業社會責任至關重要,所以我們透過與當地公民社會夥伴老撾國立大學農業學院的合作,與各持份者舉行相關對話,今年已經是第二年了。

去年,我們與夥伴共同發表了一份對老撾外商農業投資對減貧影響的概要分析,總結出老撾三大外商農業投資者,即越南、泰國和中國的投資,對勞動就業、基礎建設、技術提升、生態環境、以至窮人及弱勢社群權利的影響。

今年,我們很高興邀請到農林部、規劃和投資部、工商部及自然資源和環境部的主管官員參加會議,我們

Professor Zhao Yaqiao, head of the College of Economics and Management at Yunnan Agricultural University, gives a presentation.

合作夥伴雲南農業大學經濟管理學院院長趙鴨橋教授發言。

更邀請了三個省級農林廳官員,當地關注農民發展的國際非政府組織,以及鄰國緬甸的公民社會組織代表參加會議。

與會者都踴躍參與討論,並歸納出目前老撾外商農業投資的三大問題,即訂單農業欠缺規範、外來農藥的進口及使用欠缺監管,以及勞動力短缺和工人權利欠保障等。難得的是,官員都認同要面對和解決這些問題。

就我們這次到靠近中老兩國邊境的豐沙里省所見,大部分農民都可以通過和外國投資者的合作獲得額外的現金收入,而且耕種技術也因此有所提升,但是由於訂單合同欠缺規範,農產品價格資訊不透明,小農戶的權益並未受到應有保障。而且進口農藥欠缺老撾文標籤,往往出現誤用農藥的情況,令農作物被毁、環境受污染及農民身體受到傷害的消息時有所聞。

當然,這裡篇幅所限,未能羅列所有問題。如果各位有興趣,不妨下載去年發表的報告參考一下  。今年的報告亦正在整理,預料可於下半年出版。事實上,調查研究可以幫助我們了解發展背後的真象,推動我們在制定解決方法時能針對外商農業投資政策的改變,長遠改善貧窮人生計及環境。以下是部分樂施會的調查報告:外國農業投資對老撾反貧困的機遇與挑戰 。

 

The farmers often use agrochemicals imported from China without descriptions in the Lao language.

從中國進口的農藥。

 

A contract signed between a Chinese trader and a village head in Laos can look like this.

中國商人與老撾某村長簽訂的農產品生產合同。

 

 

 

 

 

 

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李育成為國際項目部項目幹事-研究及倡議,主要工作是倡導外商農業企業在發展中國家投資時,要對小農戶負責,並促進政府執行保障小農的相關政策,以改善他們的生計。育成熟悉湄公河地區的發展問題,並且相信通過規管外商投資,可讓當地社區從中得益。除了日常工作,他亦喜歡旅遊,欣賞文化古蹟和自然風光。

Foreign agricultural investments stir up discussions

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By Kevin Li — Programme Officer, International Programme Unit

Recently in March, we made a visit to Laos. We not only met with small farmers in the rural areas, but also attended a conference addressing the impact of foreign agricultural investments with government officials, academics and NGO representatives. We hope that in the long term the laws regulating those investments will be implemented well, so as to protect the livelihoods of the small farmers and their environment.

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Dominique Van Der Borght, country director of Oxfam in Laos, makes the opening speech at the conference, while Dr. Silinthone Sacklokham, the deputy head of the faculty of agriculture at the National University of Laos, sits to the left.

In Laos, the government and its policies are key to the implementation of corporate social responsibility. For this reason, we supported the National University of Laos in conducting this multi-stakeholder dialogue. This was already the second year.

Last year, we released an analysis on foreign agribusiness investments and their impact on poverty in Laos. We looked at the effect that the three countries with the most investments — Vietnam, Thailand and China — have had on employment, infrastructure, technology, the environment, and poor people in the country.

Professor Zhao Yaqiao, head of the College of Economics and Management at Yunnan Agricultural University, gives a presentation.

Professor Zhao Yaqiao, head of the College of Economics and Management at Yunnan Agricultural University, gives a presentation.

This year at the International Conference on Foreign Investments in the Agricultural Sector of the Lao, we not only invited officials from the key ministries regulating agricultural investments. We also invited officials from government departments in three provinces, representatives from the local branches of international non-governmental organisations, and civil society groups from neighbouring Myanmar.

They actively participated in the discussion and spoke about the top three issues surrounding foreign agriculture investments, namely the labour shortage, and the lack of regulations on contract farming, of monitoring on imported agrochemicals, and of protection on workers’ rights. The government officials agree that these are key issues that need to be addressed.

Participants pose for a photograph at the International Conference on Foreign Investments in the Agricultural Sector of Laos.

Participants pose for a photograph at the International Conference on Foreign Investments in the Agricultural Sector of Laos.

Based on our observations in Phongsaly Province, which is located near the Laos-China border, most farmers have benefited from the income generated by cooperating with foreign agriculture investors, and they have improved their farming techniques. However, due to a lack of compliance in the production contracts  and a lack of transparency in pricing on agricultural produce, the rights of small farmers are not well protected. Without labelling in the Lao language on fertilisers, farmers often do not know how to properly use them. This can lead to misuse, sometimes killing the crops, creating chemical pollution, and resulting in health hazards for the farmers themselves.

The key issues are not limited to these. If you are interested, please feel free to download the report here. We are also going to publish a new report later this year. By doing research we can find out what is really going on behind the development, and develop solutions to solve the problems we mentioned above. In long run, this can benefit the small farmers. These are part of the reports on agribusiness investments:

–          Understanding China’s Overseas Foreign Direct Investment: A Mapping of Chinese Law and Regulations: Follow this link.

–          Agribusiness Investment in Lao PDR: Opportunities and Challenges for Poverty Reduction: Follow this link.

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The farmers often use agrochemicals imported from China without descriptions in the Lao language.

The farmers often use agrochemicals imported from China without descriptions in the Lao language.

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A contract signed between a Chinese trader and a village head in Laos can look like this.

A contract signed between a Chinese trader and a village head in Laos can look like this.

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Football for peace

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By Dorah Ntunga — Oxfam Novib Information, Media and Communications Officer

As 32 countries compete for the World Cup title in Brazil, a different kind of tournament is taking place in northern Uganda. There, in the districts of Arua and Adjumani, young South Sudanese refugees have formed football teams to play for peace.

“I never expected to end up in such a situation. I miss Bor, school and my friends,” says 18-year-old Manyangson Ngong, the captain of the Lucky Start team from Ayilo settlement. His studies in Bor were cut short at the start of the conflict that has left many fleeing for safety.

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Manyangson Ngong hangs out with two of his team mates.

Manyangson is not the only young person trying to cope. Of the more than 110,000 refugees that have arrived in Uganda since December 2013, 65 percent are under 18. With no schools for them to attend, the youths have been left idle, often engaging in fights. The football tournament is a refugee-initiated attempt to break that cycle.

“A few of us started by kicking a handmade ball within the settlements, many youths showed interest to join us and before we knew it, the numbers had grown. We then decided to ask for space where we created a football pitch.  With football, we are kept busy not to think over the bad situation and pain,” Manyangson says.

“Many other teams have been created. We are all from different tribes including the host [Ugandan] community!”

BENIFA FC prepares for a friendly match at Ocea football pitch, Arua. Refugee youths have taken to football as tool for peace and healing.

BENIFA FC prepares for a friendly match at Ocea football pitch, Arua. Refugee youths have taken to football as tool for peace and healing.

The biggest challenge, according to Manyangson, is allowing everyone to play, since there are not enough balls or uniforms to differentiate who is on which team.

“It feels bad stopping someone from joining the teams when they want to. We have tried to divide the teams to ensure everyone has a chance to play. The balls we recently received from [Oxfam partner] ACORD are assisting in making this possible.”

“With more support, hopefully we can grow stronger and start playing friendly matches with other refugees and teams within the districts. Who knows? I might meet some of my old friends among the teams!”

Oxfam Response
Oxfam and partners Community Empowerment for Rural Development (CEFORD) and Agency for Cooperation and Research in Development (ACORD) are engaged in protection and peace building work in the settlements. Besides providing for recreational activities like distributing footballs, Oxfam is supporting the formation and strengthening of peace committees made up of refugee and host communities to engage in national, regional and international advocacy to encourage peace building and reconciliation.

As of June, Oxfam and local partners including Uganda Red cross have supported over 38,198 South Sudanese refugees and the communities hosting them in Arua and Adjumani districts.  We are providing clean water to over 31,000 people, improving sanitation facilities and promoting good hygiene to prevent disease outbreaks like cholera. Oxfam and its partners CEFORD and ACORD are distributing energy saving stoves, farming tools, vegetable seedlings and providing short term jobs to help people rebuild their livelihoods. Oxfam and partners have also carried out analysis of the protection needs for the different gender, designed and deliberately implementing activities that reduce vulnerability and prevent gender based violence among refugees and host communities.

From sharing to my reflection on joining Oxfam Trailwalker

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Kanie Siu – Fundraising and Communications Director

It’s hard to believe that half a year has passed since our last Oxfam Trailwalker (OTW). Now we’re in the full swing of preparing for the 33rd edition of this 100 kilometre hike. It’s pretty exciting seeing all the entries come in as we approach the deadline for open team applications on 21 May.

In late April and early May, I joined a few friends from the Big Hearts teams (无敌小宇宙大家庭) who had participated in last year’s Oxfam Trailwalker, to do a sharing session about the event in Beijing and Guangzhou. This is the first time that Oxfam has conducted a sharing session of this kind in Mainland China, one which is aimed at introducing the event as well as Oxfam to companies and the general public through the media.

The sharing made me recall the experience that I had last year when I joined the event as a participant. I have been involved in the event since joining Oxfam Hong Kong in 1998. I could understand the joy that was shown on the walkers’ faces when I delivered the certificates to them at the finishing point, but not their passion and enthusiasm, until I participated in the event myself last year.

I became determined to join the event once, at least once in my life, a few years ago. This only became a reality last year. I joined the event through Westhikers, a hiking group which has been participating in OTW for many years. Mr Yiu, the founder, and Karen, the coordinator of the group, are die-hard fans of the event. They have helped lots of newbies and assisted them with their training for the event.

Members of Westhikers, a group with lots of experience participating in Oxfam Trailwalker, pause for break during one of our grueling training sessions. As you can see from my smile (front row, second from right) I had a lot of fun, despite the physical challenge.

Members of Westhikers, a group with lots of experience participating in Oxfam Trailwalker, pause for break during one of our grueling training sessions. As you can see from my smile (front row, second from right) I had a lot of fun, despite the physical challenge.

Mr Yiu (third from left) and other helped us a great deal in

Mr Yiu (third from left) and Karen (not pictured), from Westhikers, helped a great deal in our training.

The first formal training session organised by the hiking group was a walk from Tai Po Road in Kam Shan Country Park to Shing Mun Reservoir in Tsuen Wan. This segment of the MacLehose Trail is classified as the lowest in difficulty. However, I found it difficult to walk for a whole day and climb up the hills. My legs were sore after the walk and the pain lasted for a week, even though I did a lot of stretching.

Because of the pain, I went to see my physiotherapist. I had started seeing him a year earlier because of neck pain. He is also a Chinese doctor and was a Trailwalker himself years ago.

He gave me several pieces of advice. He said I was very weak. Based on my abilities at that point in time, it was unlikely that I would be able to complete the Trailwalker event, no matter how hard I trained. He said my muscles were not strong enough, especially in my thighs. He said I did not have enough qi or xue – in Chinese medicine, these are the functional entities – and that I had to strengthen myself all these areas in addition to training on the trails.

I asked myself once again if I really wanted to realise this dream. My answer was yes. After that, I thought about what I should do.

I started to implement my plan step by step.

To strengthen my muscles, I joined a fitness centre. I talked to a personal trainer about my goal. She helped me build up the strength in my muscles, especially in my thighs. I met her twice a week after work. Apart from the exercises she designed for me, I ran on the treadmill. My body would be in a lot of pain after every training session as my muscles were just not accustomed to the exercises. Still, I stuck to my regular training sessions every week.

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Since my Chinese doctor told me I needed to get stronger, I joined a gym and worked out with a trainer twice a week in addition to our trail sessions.

Since my Chinese doctor told me I needed to get stronger, I joined a gym and worked out with a trainer twice a week in addition to our trail sessions.

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Every trail training session left me in pain, but I was able to get stick with it thanks to encouragement from my teammates, support from my doctor, acupuncturist and masseuse. And, of course, some Panadol.

Every trail session left me in pain, but I was able to get through it thanks to my doctor, acupuncturist and masseuse. And, of course, some Panadol.

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To improve my qi and xue, I also saw my Chinese doctor once a fortnight. I had to drink Chinese medicine twice a day. Though not bitter, the medicine was not tasty either. He measured my xue and qi and adjusted the Chinese herb ingredients for me every time I saw him.

To familiarise myself with the trail, I joined my teammates to train every weekend. We started off early in the morning and walked until late in the evening. Once, we walked through the night until the next morning. Another time, to complete a distance of 50 km, we walked until midnight. As you could imagine, my legs and feet became incredibly sore. I had to receive physiotherapy as well as acupuncture treatment. I also had massage treatments almost every time after a walk to relieve my pain.

Sometimes, we trained late into the night, but all of those late sessions were worth it when we made it to the finish line on the big day.

Sometimes, we trained late into the night. All of those late sessions were worth it when we made it to the finish line on the big day.

In the meantime, I hurt my feet and a ligament in my right leg. I took Panadol every time I trained on the trails.

Our team had a discussion and agreed to train together as many times as possible, especially from July to November. Westhikers organised 16 training sessions in that period. We completed 13 sessions together. We walked about 400 km each during those few months. We set a target to finish the trail in 39 hours. We developed our strategy to complete the walk, planned our rest times at each checkpoint, and prepared the right amount of water and food with support from Westhikers. In short, we developed a common goal and were committed to completing the trail.

Before the big day, I prepared myself mentally by telling myself all of the things that were most important. I had put in the work to improve in every aspect in order to achieve my goal and to fulfill my dream of completing Oxfam Trailwalker. I had the commitment of my teammates to complete the trail. Whether I could make it or not was now up to the invisible hand.

On 15 November, the big day came. The weather was good, though it was very cool in the night. In the end, we completed the whole trail and finished it in 36 hours 24 minutes. Not only did our team of four complete the trail together, we did it with a time that was beyond our expectations.

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I was so exhausted, but at the same time so excited and energised when my teammates and I passed the finish line...

I was so exhausted, but also so excited and energised when my teammates and I passed the finish line.

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... especially when my sons came and planted big kisses on my cheeks.

… especially when my sons came and planted big kisses on my cheeks.

[/one_half_last]This was really an amazing experience for me. I never thought I would be able to make it. I believe I could not have completed the event without support from many people. They were my teammates, Westhikers, my Chinese doctor and physiotherapist, my coach and my masseuse.

So, when Zhong Huiyu, a member of the Big Hearts teams, shared his philosophy about Oxfam Trailwalker in the Guangzhou session, I fully agreed with him that it is your team and the team’s supporters who help you develop your capacity to accomplish OTW. This is similar to the spirit of Oxfam: We enable poor people to equip themselves to improve their livelihoods when we work in poor communities.

Once you understand these values and this philosophy, you will start to love the event more. After you have the experience and the ability, you will share whatever you know with your teammates and friends who join the event, in order to help them finish the 100 km walk.

Your desire to help others is similar to that of Oxfam’s development workers. We help poor people help themselves. And the passion and enthusiasm never ends.

KanieKanie Siu is fundraising and communications director at Oxfam.

緬甸社會在爭議中蛻變

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  • 緬甸改革開放,帶來了大量機會,但亦因此增加了不少社會矛盾。有一天,我們更在辦公室目睹唐人街上的遊行示威,親眼見證這社會開放的一面。

國際項目部項目幹事-研究及倡議    李育成

加入樂施會的大家庭前,一直都參與東南亞的環境運動工作,惟獨是沒有機會去緬甸。這次有幸前赴緬甸,參與策劃樂施會在當地的工作,也不忘趁此機會了解這個國家,實屬難能可貴。我想借此園地跟大家分享一下所見所聞。

辦公室在人煙稠密的唐人街

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現時的辦公室位於一幢舊式商住兩用大樓,座落的唐人街可說是仰光市的舊區。區內,華人、印度人、緬甸人雜處,街道兩旁滿佈金店、診所和舊式茶室,也有新式手機店等。白天,街道上盡是賣蔬菜水果的小攤販;入夜則換成販賣各式小吃的夜市。在這裡,你可以見盡基層仰光市民討生計的寫照。在這裡上班,每天都會提醒自己,我的工作對象其實就是這些近在咫尺的小市民。

緬甸不平等現象日益明顯

1451562_10151768693756463_1062128206_n緬甸改革開放,帶來了大量機會,但亦因此增加了不少社會矛盾。在大街小巷都行走著來自日本和韓國的二手車,包括的士和巴士。坐在這些二手車上,人們可以找到還未除去的日語標識,市內又看到新式的購物商場逐漸冒起。而我有幸參與當地民間組織舉辦的研討會,席上他們都能暢所欲言,與我想像中充滿禁忌的緬甸社會有很大分別。有一天,我們更在辦公室目睹唐人街上的遊行示威,親眼見證這社會開放的一面。

1471166_10151768691961463_2062387008_n但是,在開放的背後,卻隱藏著不少社會矛盾,甚至會隨時爆發衝突。來自日本、泰國和中國等國家的外國投資者,在緬甸大興土木,創造就業機會。但在改善基礎建設的同時,投資建設亦對環境和社會帶來影響,並因而引起民間的質疑。同時,這些投資建設集中的少數民族地區,多年來爭取向中央政府爭取更大的政治權利,對外來投資的不滿亦往往成為他們與中央政府磨擦的導火線。即使近年軍政府逐步演變成文人政府,積極尋求與民族勢力的和解,仍沒法消除外界,對政府決心進行改革的疑慮。

 

 

 

profile pix李育成為國際項目部項目幹事-研究及倡議,主要工作是倡導外商農業企業在發展中國家投資時,要對小農戶負責,並促進政府執行保障小農的相關政策,以改善他們的生計。育成熟悉湄公河地區的發展問題,並且相信通過規管外商投資,可讓當地社區從中得益。除了日常工作,他亦喜歡旅遊,欣賞文化古蹟和自然風光。

Trailwalking with and Beyond my Limitations

By: Mok Kim-wing, MH – leader of the Fearless Dragons Trailwalker team

Recently, I learned that I had won the State Street Overcoming the Odds Award for taking part in Oxfam Trailwalker in November 2013. This is exciting news. It is great encouragement, not only for me, but also the many athletes with disabilities out there. It is also very timely – I am currently preparing for next month’s Standard Chartered Marathon, and so are many runners with disabilities.

I work my way up a hill with my team, the Fearless Dragons. I might have lost my eyesight, but I have not lost my vision.

I lost my eyesight in my right eye when I was six years old. Unfortunately, I became totally blind at the age of 13. Ever since, I have had to adapt myself to darkness, uncertainty and the challenges arising from blindness. Yet, it doesn’t stop me from pursuing my dreams in life and creating a beautiful and colourful picture of my own. I love trying different things and exposing myself to new challenges. Maybe because of my disability, I seek out new, exciting and challenging adventures. More importantly, I am aware that though I have lost my eyesight, I still have lots of visions. I still have an abiding passion for life.

Thirty years ago, I lived in a squatter area at the bottom of Lion Rock Hill. Like many other young children, I loved climbing up and down the hill. I wanted to relive my good memories of my days in nature by participating in my first Trailwalker. In order to pursue my dream, I formed the Fearless Dragons team (猛龍隊) to enrol for Oxfam Trailwalker 2013. Fearless Dragons included two visually impaired and two hearing-impaired members.

My teammates and I work together as we conquer another section of the 100-kilometre trail.

Then, I asked the Faithwalker team to support us as they have rich experience with Trailwalker. More importantly, they share our mission: equal participation and equal contribution. We all believe that those who can’t see and can’t hear can join Trailwalker despite all the challenges that we might have. Faithwalker was responsible for designing the training program for us and shared their knowledge with us.

We received training every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, except when there was a typhoon. No excuses. To build up our capabilities, we walked up 160 floors every Tuesday. Also, we had to resolve the communication problem among the blind and deaf athletes and the Faithwalker team members.

We remain determined as we head down a hill. We trained hard for Trailwalker.

We conquered the 10 sections of the Trailwalker path one by one. Since I could not see the trail, we tried different methods that would allow me to walk in a safer and more efficient manner. In the end, we decided to adopt the “sandwich guiding methodology”. I would be in the middle holding a teammate’s backpack so that I could sense upward and downward motions. Then, one or two deaf members would be responsible for backing me up and warning me about cliffs, rocks and other dangers.

Even though we were constantly fine-tuning our guiding method in order to avoid getting hurt, I still twisted my ankle twice in section two. Yet, we didn’t lose heart. We had walked 590 km and finished walking up around 1,400 floors before 15 November 2013. I think that the challenges and difficulties we encountered in the process of training were beyond my imagination.

After eight months’ training, we embarked on our journey. Our strategy was to keep on walking and to save time by avoiding unnecessary breaks. It was so encouraging to hear lots of people saying our team name. Despite our disabilities and a sudden change of route on the day, we stayed focused on the fact that we were getting closer to the finishing point step by step.

A miracle happened when I arrived at section eight: I still had strength and energy. My legs were still working. I knew that I was, in fact, exhausted. Yet, I knew that there were only 20 km left ahead of us.

The sun warms the slope as we hike on, determined to complete the trail.

Though some teammates were worn out and had difficulty moving forward, we persist in running for the finishing point and we all reached Tai Tong at 5:19 pm on 16 November. We finished our first Trailwalker in 32 hours 19 minutes. The chair of the Oxfam Trailwalker advisory committee , Bernard Chan, caught us by surprise by welcoming us at the finishing point.

My dream had come true! I was rewarded with a sense of camaraderie, cheers, applause and positive energy. We had completed mission impossible. Our disabilities never stopped us from pursuing our dreams. It was a marvelous collaboration between people with and without disabilities.

I understand that problems and unexpected things are only parts of life. If we don’t give up, success is waiting for us.

Mok Kim-wing is the founder of the Fearless Dragons, a group of visually and hearing-impaired runners who regularly meet to train. He joined Oxfam Trailwalker with a team under the same name. He was awarded the Hong Kong Medal of Honour in 2011 for contributions to the wellbeing of people with disabilities. Mok, who has run many marathons before, is currently training for the 2014 Standard Chartered Marathon in Hong Kong in February.