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Former nurse and mum-of-five travels to Africa to see for herself how donations to Oxfam are spent

Posted by Sophie Bowell

10th Jul 2012

Abbie Viveash, from Cwmbran, South Wales has been chosen, after a UK-wide search, to see first-hand how money donated to Oxfam is spent when she visits one of the charity's projects in Malawi, South East Africa, this August.

Abbie, 48, a former psychiatric nurse who has just completed the second year of a Psychology degree at Newport University, will leave her five children for the first time ever to take part in this once in a lifetime opportunity. Abbie, who is not an Oxfam supporter, will meet the local people, ask questions and report back with her no holds barred experience of Oxfam's work helping communities out of poverty.

Abbie said "I've always thought that charities and Oxfam are worthy causes, but, I will hold my hands up and admit that I am one of the cynical masses that worry about where the money actually goes so I wanted to go on the trip to do just that, see for myself."

In what is likely to be a challenging trip, both emotionally and physically, Abbie's personal journey will be filmed and shared with the public as part of Oxfam's major fundraising campaign 'See For Yourself', launching this autumn.

Abbie added: "When I first heard I had been chosen to go on the trip I was in complete shock and total disbelief. I don't think it has still really sunk in. I've never left my kids, ever, but I'm leaving them to do this. It will be a wrench for me to be away from my children for ten days but I know I can do it and they back me totally because it is such an amazing opportunity."

As one of the poorest countries in the world, many people in rural Malawi live in extreme poverty and struggle to feed their families for most of the year. Abbie will be visiting an Oxfam project that aims to ensure the community has enough food all year round by supporting them to grow more drought resistant crops and improve irrigation.

Earlier this year Oxfam supporter, Jodie Sandford, became the first person ever to take part in 'See For Yourself' when she travelled to Zimbabwe to see Oxfam's work first-hand. For this trip to Malawi, Oxfam is taking the unprecedented step of enlisting someone who is not a regular giver to the charity, to see the work they do.

Oxfam's Paul Vanags, Head of Public Fundraising said: "Regular donations make Oxfam's life-changing, life-saving projects possible but we urgently need to do more. We believe that the most powerful way to encourage more people to give is to show them our work through the eyes of someone impartial who's never seen it before, such as Abbie. We hope Abbie will ask the questions that the general public want answered and make up her own mind about whether £3 a month really can make a difference. We hope when people see the work that Oxfam does they will be as confident as we are about the impact regular giving can have on fighting global poverty."

You can follow Abbie on her journey on Oxfam's Facebook page and Twitter @seeforself


Notes to editors

About the 'See For Yourself' campaign

Oxfam's research highlights that uncertainty about whether donated money gets to where it's needed or if it even makes a difference long term can be a major barrier to giving. The 'See For Yourself' campaign aims to dispel these myths and show how giving just £3 a month to Oxfam really can transform people's lives. The core of the initiative is being open and honest about how money is spent by showing Oxfam's work from an impartial point of view.

Abbie will leave for Malawi on 31 July and the trip will be for ten days. The whole experience will be filmed as part of a TV, print and online campaign which will launch this autumn to encourage more people to donate to Oxfam on a regular basis.

Oxfam's work in Malawi

Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world - more than half the 13 million people there live below the poverty line. Oxfam provides financial support to more than 15 partner organisations in the country. These organisations work with communities in five districts to improve long-term food and income security, mitigate the impact of HIV and AIDS, build the capacity of civil society organisations, and promote good governance, gender equality and the empowerment of women.

About Oxfam

Oxfam is a global humanitarian, development and campaigning organisation working with others to overcome poverty and suffering. Since its Oxford-based beginnings in 1942, it has grown into a worldwide force. Oxfam is now working in nearly 60 countries on a diverse range of projects, from providing emergency water sources to supporting community health projects.

For every £1 donated to its general funds, 83p is spent on emergency, development and campaigning work, 10p is spent on support and governance and 7p is invested to generate future income.

Oxfam GB is affiliated to Oxfam International, a global confederation of 15 independent Oxfams which share the same purpose.


Blog post written by Sophie Bowell

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