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This Week at Oxfam, 13-17 May

Posted by Suzanne Rodrigues Editorial Assistant in Oxfam's Digital Communications Team

17th May 2013

Firstly, apologies for leaving you without a This Week at Oxfam update last Friday.  Don't worry, it's back. It won't leave you again. At least, not for a while. 

This week was Digital Week
It feels right to kick off this update with Digital Week. I work in the Digital Communications Team and the idea behind Digital Week was telling the organisation who we are and what we work on - as well as getting them to think about the different digital tools they can use to communicate with, well, you. One of the things we did was hold workshops. There was one about optimising web pages for mobile. There was another about the increasingly important role of digital technology to tackle poverty, which is brilliant demonstrated by the Pink Phones project in Cambodia. We even had a BT futurologist, Dr Nicola Millard, talk to us about what might be lying around the corner for both customers and organisations. 

The atrium was taken over with display boards covering all aspects of our work, and we held a very quick quiz to get people thinking about some of the stats relating to digital.  Here are a few for you (the answers are at the bottom of the page):

What percentage of Africa's population has access to a mobile phone?
A: 20%, B: 40%, C: 80%

There are 7 billion people on the planet. 6 billion have access to a mobile phone. How many people do you think have access to a toilet?
A: 3.1 billion, B: 4.5 billion, C: 5.8 billion

How often do you think people check their mobile phone on average a day? 
A: 100, B: 150, C: 200

Some heart-wrenching stories from Syria
Some of my colleagues have been in Lebanon for the past few weeks, talking to Syrian refugees and hearing their stories - so they can send them back to Oxfam House and we can share them with you.  I've talked quite a lot about the number of people affected by the crisis on this blog - and they are staggering (82,000 people have been killed, 12,500 are missing, 6.8 million people are in need of assistance inside Syria and 1.4 million Syrian refugees are now living in neighbouring countries). But it's hearing the stories from the people behind those numbers that really helps us - well, me at least - relate to what's happening. The story that stood out for me this week was Reema's story.  Reema is 12 and her life has been turned upside down.  She told Jane, who met and spoke to her, "I loved my city. I loved my school. I loved my friends. I loved my teachers." I'll try and bring you more from Reema next week.  She wrote some poetry about Syria, which I would really like to share with you. 

Other stories and anecdotes from Oxfam House
I'm going to leave the update there for now.  But, so much more goes on in this building that I've done justice to so far - so my mission over the coming months is to get more of the stories and anecdotes from my colleagues and bring them to you! Have a great weekend. 

The quiz answers:

C: 80% Mobile banking has helped fuel mobile usage in many African countries - with more than 55 million people across the continent using their phones to transfer money. Oxfam is using mobile phones for development in work such as the Pink Phones project in Cambodia. 

B: 4.5 billion Fewer people have access to a toilet than to a mobile phone. A sobering thought. And though much progress has been made in making sure that everyone on the planet has access to decent sanitation and clean drinking water, there's still much work to be done.

B: 150 Setting the alarm, checking Facebook, tweeting, sending texts, playing games, changing songs, taking pictures and plugging and unplugging phone - it all adds up!

Blog post written by Suzanne Rodrigues

Editorial Assistant in Oxfam's Digital Communications Team

More by Suzanne Rodrigues