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Student activist initiates challenge to end poverty

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Brittlin Richardson, Oxfam treasurer, poses for a photo Oct. 13 as she recruits students to sign her petition. The purpose of the petition is to allow more refugees to enter the U.S.
Photo by Lara Dietrich | Multimedia Editor

A group of students are forming a new organization called the Oxfam Club, to make a lasting change in pursuit of their goal to end world poverty. One student in particular is pioneering the efforts on campus on behalf of the group’s national chapter.

Oxfam Club at Texas State, is a chapter of the national Oxfam America organization. Oxfam works on many types of global advocacy campaigns such as human rights, world hunger and poverty relief, climate change, access to clean drinking water and empowering women and girls.

Kele Isibor, international relations junior and Oxfam Club president, was in the third grade when her family moved from Nigeria. After immigrating there from South Africa, her family moved to the United States on a diversity immigrant visa.

Grateful for the opportunities and resources she has acquired since relocating, Isibor said she also felt a sense of identity crisis growing up.

“I know exactly what it is like to not see yourself out there or to feel like there is not a way to get your voice out there,” Isibor said. “I have known that feeling from a young age and I have known what it is like to be treated unfairly.”

After deciding to get involved in the process of furthering justice for all, Isibor spent a week in Boston, Massachusetts this summer at the Oxfam Change Initiative training program where she learned how to bring Oxfam’s mission back to Texas State.

The campus chapter will focus on specific campaigns to bring greater awareness to the issues of inequality and poverty in the United States and throughout the rest of the world.

Currently, the organization’s main campaign on campus is to advocate for the global refugee crisis. The club plans to hold tabling events to acquire signatures on a petition that will demand the United States to allow at least 75,000 refugees to resettle. The national Oxfam organization will collect the signatures from numerous college campuses to send in mass to the current administration.

“I understand what it is like to have to leave what you know as home and what you know as true,” Isibor said. “I think if we were to band together our voice would be more powerful and we could really do a lot and really be heard.”

The main goal for the Oxfam Club to provide a platform for change and the bobcat practice of recognizing and supporting underrepresented communities. Robert Garcia, staff advisor for Oxfam and LBGTQIA coordinator for the office of student diversity and inclusion, said that he believes the Oxfam Club is a perfect fit for the Texas State community.

“Being able to unify students on campus is going to allow for the impact and change they want to see actually come to fruition,” Garcia said. “My hope for them is that they are able to fill the responsibility of empowering themselves to be able to empower others.”

Other students who are also passionate about human rights have been recruited to join the club. Dezerae Reyes, sociology senior and vice president of the Oxfam Club, said she joined the club after noticing injustices in things out of her direct control but wanted to take a step towards correcting these wrongdoings.

“As world citizens, we are all responsible for contributing to these problems,” Reyes said. “I feel a responsibility to use the voice I have to defend the rights that people fight for everyday.”

Leaders of the Oxfam Club said they intend to host other campaigns this year as well, such as a hunger banquet to simulate the differing levels of food shortages for varying levels of income and Oxfam Jams to raise awareness of the organization’s mission between talent showcases.

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