When see­ing is be­liev­ing...

Ox­fam donor cho­sen to visit char­ity’s projects on ‘see for your­self’ trip to Zam­bia

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - by WILL BRADLEY wil­liam.bradley@trin­i­tymir­ror.com Twit­ter: @GetSur­reyWill

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

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