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“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill

It was a cold and windy morning when forty rowdy teenagers set off on a trip the Oxfam Distribution Centre in Oxford, with an additional visit to Bicester Village, a designer outlet, near to Oxford. 

Twenty boys started off by heading to Bicester Village, the home of designer outlets and rich business men, where school children looked miles out of place. Nevertheless, the early hours of the morning were spent venturing into the world of designer retail.

The prices even for a simple polo shirt at Ralph Lauren were ridiculous when compared to the price of a polo shirt at ASDA. With a plain polo shirt at Ralph Lauren costing around £50, whereas at ASDA you could get the same coloured shirt for £6.

The research was concluded with a trip to the diamond shop ‘Hearts of Fire’ where the employees were questioned intensely about the sourcing of the diamonds, in connection with current topic of ‘Blood Diamonds’. When asked about where their diamonds were from, the sales team told the boys that they got their diamonds from South Africa due to the reliability, however, when the boys went to another diamond shop, ‘Anoushka’, the sales team told them that they bought their diamonds from wherever they were cheapest...

The group then hopped back on to the coach and headed to the Oxfam Distribution Centre, where all of the supplies needed for humanitarian aid are distributed.

The group kicked off the visit with a look into the Nepal earthquake with figures shocking the group, such as the 8,617 people who were killed and the 473,000 houses that were destroyed, leaving people homeless.

Then, the group moved on to the water section of the visit, learning about how Oxfam helped to build water tanks, and distribute safe water to war-torn areas using methods such as the bladder pack. The group also got the chance to sit in a water tank, and look at a winch used to clear out wells in Africa and Asia, as well as look at the buckets Oxfam distributed.

Next, the group was taught about how Oxfam helped deliver sanitary aid, using ‘Pee-Poo’ bags, which are bio-degradable bags to be temporarily used where there is no other places to go to the toilet. They had a go at squatting in the squat loo’s and everyone trying to fit into two temporary loos at the same time, whilst the two tour guides watched on. 

Next, the group squeezed into what seemed to be a really big tent designed for eight humanitarian workers to be based from whilst in areas where there was no shelter. The tent seemed to shrink when the group was told a story of a time in Africa on a freezing cold night in a heavy rain storm when Oxfam aid workers arrived to help pitch tents to provide temporary shelter for the Africans. Their guide told them of the tents being filled with over eighty people as soon as the tent was pitched, then they would pitch another tent and the same would happen. This went on for the whole night until everyone in the village was in a tent.

Finally the group moved on to the rest of the warehouse where the humanitarian aid items such as the Oxfam buckets, the ‘Life Saver’ buckets and the tool kits were stored in countless boxes.

The final step of the tour around the centre was to take a look at the numerous cardboard boxes loaded up ready to be sent around the world to help deliver humanitarian aid, complete free of charge despite the implication of import tax from the country receiving free goods, leaving Oxfam to wonder why they bothered. That finished our trip to Oxfam and we were left with one question...

How is it that just sixty-six crocodile skin handbags from a designer shop could pay for the entirety of supplies filling the Oxfam warehouse?

It really does make you think...

Billy Arthur, 9C


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