When seeing is believing...
Oxfam donor chosen to visit charity’s projects on ‘see for yourself’ trip to Zambia
A FORMER Beaconsfield businessman has returned from an insightful Oxfam ‘See-For-Yourself’ trip to Zambia.
Gavin Masson, 55, was one of four people, selected nationally from 200 Oxfam supporters, to see how donations are spent overseas.
Gavin has three sons and is a former volunteer youth team coach of Beaconsfield Holtspur Football Club.
As a keen Arsenal FC supporter, he managed to secure 12 footballs and football kits from the club, which he donated personally to the Zambian schoolchildren during the trip. In light of the recent scandal, Gavin said some of his friends had asked him why he bothered supporting Oxfam.
Gavin said: “It was great, the purpose of the trip was for Oxfam to show volunteers what they do in the field.
“I have been a lifetime supporter of Oxfam, and know all the good that they do. The work they do is absolutely vital and the scandal hasn’t shaken my view. The work is very much needed and was appreciated by everyone that we visited.”
It was an emotional experience, which has fired him up, making Gavin more convinced than ever that NGOs, like Oxfam, need to keep fighting poverty. This is the second year that Oxfam has run a trip for supporters to visit the charity’s programmes.
Gavin was particularly interested in seeing the businesses and visited a new milk collection centre part-funded by Oxfam where dairy farmers bring their churns to be sold.
He met farmers who made a five-hour round trip to bring their churns to the centre on foot, while others balanced them on bikes.
Dairy farmer Elias Chileshe explained to Gavin how he balances the 15-litre milk churn on his bike on a six-km journey to and from the centre each day.
Elias used to sell milk on the streets, so it often went off in the heat. He and his wife, like 150 other households who bring their milk to the centre, earn far more now as the centre sells the milk to a multinational milk supplier and provides support and medicines to keep the livestock healthy. As well as seeing agricultural projects, Gavin visited a new medical centre, a university and schools. He was shocked that so many of the schoolchildren had no lunch because of a lack of money. He saw plenty of people with nothing – no shoes or shirts; no proper roads or transport.
Gavin regularly gives presentations about Oxfam in schools in Buckinghamshire. He said: “I give customised presentations and this allows me to personalise them based on this experience.”
Oxfam supporter Gavin Masson greets children at Kawama West Community School, Mufurila District, Zambia PHOTOS: AURELIE MARRIER D’UNIENVILLE / OXFAM
Gavin Masson talks with Elias Chileshe, a member of the Oxfam supported dairy co operative in Kalulushi