Haringey students made national ‘campaign champions’ for Oxfam

Two students attended the East Africa lobby in Parliament to demand an urgent response to famine

By Mia Currie

Credit Gerry Robinson

Haringey-based students Amario and Mia, both aged 15, attended UK Parliament on Monday, 27th February. Mia wrote about her experience:

A couple of weeks ago, my Haringey Learning Partnership classmate Amario and I were accepted as youth champions for Oxfam’s ‘Send My Friend to School’ campaign – a national campaign which asks schools across the UK to take action and call for greater government funding for global education. Over half a million children in the UK join in every year, campaigning in their local communities, taking the message to their local MPs, and helping to make real change happen.

As a newcomer to this kind of work, I wasn’t 100% sure what a ‘campaign champion’ might do. But Oxfam’s youth campaign leader, John McLaverty, quickly brought us up to speed, inviting four young campaigners to attend a day in Westminster this Monday (27th February), as part of a 100-strong group of lobbyists from around the UK. Everyone was there to talk to MPs about the East Africa Hunger Crisis, which is affecting millions of people in South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.

I woke up on Monday morning horrified to see my school skirt covered in cat fur. This was an important day and so, using a roll of sellotape, I gently removed the offending fluff and studied my notes from the information pack we had been given. As I reminded myself of the shocking statistics, my resolve to make a good impression deepened.

Living in the UK, it is easy to be completely oblivious to the devastation in East Africa. Even some MPs we talked to acknowledged that there are so many global crises going on at the moment, an issue like this, which was relatively slow growing, hasn’t got the attention it deserves. However, this does not and can never diminish the real-life suffering that is occurring. Every 36 seconds, one person dies from starvation in East Africa. That’s more than 2,000 people a day; 20,000 people a week. That’s equivalent to losing the population of Fortismere School and half of Greig City Academy every day.

We cannot dismiss this loss as something that takes place miles away – as deaths across the globe that aren’t our problem. Scientists say that the five, consecutive failed rain seasons are the direct result of climate change. This is our problem, because countries in the western world are the ones producing the most greenhouse gases. This famine is the worst it has been in 40 years, but we are only awarding East Africa 20% of the original aid budget. Decreased from 2017’s £861million, our new budget of £156m is not enough to support the millions of adults and children who will go hungry every day.

We told this to a number of MPs, including the MP for Tottenham, shadow foreign secretary David Lammy, MP for Enfield, Bambos Charalambous, and MP for Canterbury, Rosie Duffield, who all seemed to understand our points deeply. I handed out flyers I had designed, and we shared our message that what is going on in East Africa is not okay.

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