Since last summer, when I found myself having to do a crowdfunder, I've realised how important it is to give back when you can, whether that's to charity, loved ones, or fellow humans who for some reason have ended up on the street. Not that I didn't know that giving back was important before, but to be honest, it wasn't something I often thought about, unlike now.
So, when Oxfam got in touch asking me to help fight poverty with their Stories of Hope campaign, I was immediately happy to do it. In the process, I was told the story of Qassim, a man in Iraq.
For Qassim, his work is a form of art. Barbering is his passion, and despite the situation in his country, he has been able to utilise his skills and turn it into a future for himself. With Oxfam's help, Qassim is the proud owner of his own successful barbershop in Husseini village in eastern Iraq.
In Iraq, war and conflict is an ongoing problem and Qassim has experienced this. In 2014, an attack was launched on a nearby province, meaning a huge influx of people descended upon Husseini village. Qassim found his barbershop overrun. The Kurdish police became suspicious of him and he was later arrested.
Upon returning to Husseini village, Qassim discovered that his shop had been trashed and his barbering equipment had been stolen. Although he was devastated at the damage done, Qassim didn't let the situation get the better of him. Instead, he decided to rent out another property where he now puts his skills to use once again.
"When Oxfam came, I reopened my shop. Oxfam provided me with money... They helped
me to buy everything in my shop. I bought chairs, the mirrors, the machines, the creams,
everything actually. My barbershop is a small shop but I like it... I love everything about it."
The fact that he got up and started again, after being wrongly arrested and discovering that his prized possessions had been vandalised or stolen, is so inspiring. And it's not just Qassim. Last year, Oxfam was able to help 11.6 million people do the same. This is all thanks to regular donations from people like us. Just £2.50 can provide 25 water treatment tablets, which makes about 500 litres of water safe; enough to last a family of four for a month. I was shocked at how cheap that is. That's cheaper than a magazine, or the tiny pot of pasta I bought on the go earlier...
Furthermore, £7 could provide people with cash or vouchers to use in an emergency, helping them to buy food locally, and £20 could provide warm bedding and protection from the elements.
Makes you think, doesn't it?
Thank you to Qassim and Oxfam for sharing this with me, and I hope you're as inspired by this as I am.
Click here to donate online to Oxfam.