Youth Grab Oxfam House
Sophia Ireland Oxfam's Youth and Schools Campaigner and Regional Team Leader for the Midlands (UK)
11th Nov 2011
It was a peaceful afternoon in Oxfam House; people hard at work, meetings in progress. Then: chaos!
The atrium was snatched from its civilised state. Oxfam Youth Action Board members from all over the country enacted a demonstrative land grab highlighting the awful case study of land grabs in Uganda and indeed, other similar situations that are a devastating reality to many.
With hand-made placards, banners and posters, in big corporation style they ripped the atrium area away from unwitting Oxfam staff. Inspired by an Oxfam case study into land deals taking place in Uganda to make way for New Forests Company plantations, they stormed Oxfam House. A situation in which 20,000 people have been ripped away from their livelihoods, their communities devastated in the wake of such neglect of basic human rights; one cannot fail to be shocked.
Reactions of staff varied from slight annoyance to genuine interest in the issues and the involvement and action of young people within Oxfam's campaigning work. All criteria of a land grab were met; they had no consent, staff weren't compensated and they were deprived of their comfy sofas. Wheras Oxfam staff were left without an atrium only momentarily, the people of the Kiboga and Mubende districts have little chance of obtaining redress without the support of the Ugandan Land Alliance and Oxfam.
While the New Forests Company has denied participation in the evictions, Oxfam has called for the company to undertake a full impartial investigation into the claims of the communities. A full investigation will pave the way for change and justice, in this case and others around the world.
The Oxfam Youth Action Board comprises a group of 40 inspired young people with a desire to change the world by reducing poverty and suffering. After a two-day training meeting with Oxfam Youth Action Board groups from around the country, they were inspired into taking part in their own land grab to raise awareness of a key element of Oxfam's latest GROW campaign.
Find out more about land grabs and Oxfam's GROW campaign.