Here, we bring together people of different backgrounds. They tell you their struggles in the past, their lives in the present, and their aspirations for the future.
Name: Zhang Junyou
Age: 12 years old
Country: Kunming City, Yunnan Province, China
Family members: Grandpa, Grandma
‘I live in a migrant worker community in Kunming City with my grandparents. There is no running water or toilet in the small room we rent. It is very inconvenient especially for my grandma, because she is visually impaired. Whenever she needs to use the toilet, she has to walk up and down the stairs to the public toilet.
Our hometown is in a remote rural area in Zigong City, Sichuan Province. Grandpa said that we have no relatives, no farmland or a house there. So, we cannot go back. Grandpa is the breadwinner of the family. He makes and alters clothes in a small factory in Kunming, earning about 1,200 yuan a month. He uses this meagre income to pay the rent, buy food for us and support my studies. Grandpa is getting old, I’m worried he’s going to burn out.
My mother abandoned me when I was born, and my father works in Jiangsu Province. I haven’t seen him for many years. I miss my parents. I love my grandparents very much. I want to be with them forever. I remember grandma had an operation a year ago; I was so scared. I didn’t want them to worry about me, so I only cried in my bed at nights.
I was not born in Yunnan, and my household registration is in Sichuan, I cannot go to a public school. Thank you (Oxfam) for supporting my school fee, or I would have had to drop out from school.
We couldn’t even afford a TV. Every day after school, I go to the Community Centre (supported by Oxfam) to do homework and read books. There are volunteer teachers to help us with our homework. I work very hard with my studies, and I score 80-90 marks in many subjects, including Maths and Science. I also like drawing.
What is my dream? I am still very young, dreams are a bit unattainable to me. I just want to be able to further my studies.
Name: Arzin Akther
Country: Kabirkhan Village, Austragram Union, Kishoreganj District, Bangladesh
Challenges: Traditional values, and women’s social and economic status hinder them from taking on leadership roles and enjoying equal rights with men; gender-based violence is still prevalent.
My dream: To be able to continue studying and go to university
My pledge: I say NO to child marriage. I will only get married after 18.
Name: Lokakala Bharattiarai
Age: Over 80
Occupation: Smallholder farmer
Country: Arghakhanchi District, Nepal
Family members: 15 children but only four are still alive
Daily routine: Wakes up at 4 am to prepare fodder for livestock, fetches water and works in the farm, then grounds maize and makes dinner; she goes to bed at around 10 pm
What she enjoys most in life: Enjoying a cup of milk after a tiring day of work
Most upsetting thing in life: Having to work all the time but still not having much food
Motto: Everyone should work to be self-reliant. Work can keep us healthy.
Name: Magdalen Nandawula
Occupation: Head of Humanitarian Team, Oxfam in Tanzania
Humanitarian work experience: Ebola response in Sierra Leone, South Sudan famine, conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Chad etc.
Most unforgettable experience: In 2014, I was seriously ill and had a high temperature for a week while supporting Oxfam’s response to the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone. I thought I was infected with Ebola virus. I was so scared.
What are the challenges of humanitarian work? The needs are massive, the expectations are high but the resources are so limited. The world is full of catastrophes, and manmade and natural disasters are increasing, yet with the economic meltdown, resources are dwindling. As a humanitarian worker, the feelings of despair and frustration are inevitable.
What, to you, is humanitarian work all about? Humanitarian work is not just about the people we serve, it’s also about us and our commitment to making sure that we put the available resources to the right cause. We must ensure that communities and governments outgrow the dependence syndrome and are able to support themselves when disasters arise and be prepared enough to handle the challenge that comes with emergencies.
What would make you the happiest: If there were no more natural or manmade disasters in the world. Then I can retire, go home to grow vegetables and spend time with my grandchildren.