They got the
call, and in April 2010, Kristin Clements-Effner and
Tracie Moss traveled to Washington D.C.
And for what
did they enlist? The fight to find international solutions to
poverty and injustice under the auspices of Oxfam America, the U.S. branch of
the global humanitarian NGO.
D.C., Effner and Moss attended a four-day orientation
as organizers of an Oxfam Action Corps group being established in Indianapolis.
There are a total of 13 groups in the United States, San
Francisco and New York City being two of the largest, with the Indianapolis
group part of a crop of five new groups including outposts in Seattle, Wash.
and Columbus, Ohio.
As part of the training, Effner
and Moss were asked to put together an impromptu consciousness-raising event.
With little advance time, they put together a screening of the short film Sisters on the Planet, a documentary
concerning four women from countries affected by climate change: Sharon from
coastal Mississippi, Muriel from Argentina, Sahena
from Bangladesh, and Martina from Uganda.
"We were given three hours to put together the screening,
"Moss said. "We had to get food and most importantly, get people to come. It ended up being a success and helped us get
more energetic about what we were doing."
Effner and Moss brought their skills -- and a
copy of Sisters on the Planet -- back
to Indianapolis, again screening the film at the Earth House in May.
Effner, who grew up in suburbia, says it was
easy for her to remain unaware about issues like global poverty and the impact
of climate change.
"I was blind to the fact that there are people in other countries
that do not have food, homes, and furniture," she explained. "I went on my honeymoon in Jamaica and was
shocked that people were living in dirt huts without floors. And I am a firm
believer that if you see something that is wrong, you should do something."
Effner found out about Oxfam America on www.idealist.com. "I wanted to be able to use the skills I had
gained through my studies in social work on an international level and Oxfam
gives me that opportunity."
Moss first heard about Oxfam America after the earthquake
in Haiti. "I donated money to the Haiti
relief, but I wanted to be able to do more.
Oxfam does a lot on the ground and I wanted to help."
Effner and Moss are currently working on
getting more volunteers in the Indianapolis area. "We want to make Hoosiers aware of what is
happening around the world and what they can do to help," Effner
said. The group signed up ten new volunteers since the film screening.
The Action Corp group will also be present at concerts
and events (including the Lilith Fair and John Mayer show) throughout the year
in the Indy area to inform visitors about the group and their mission.
Meanwhile, networking is key for
these newcomers to activism. "We are also trying to recognize other local
groups that have similar goals and the same ideas, so we can join our efforts,"
The Oxfam Action Corp group holds monthly volunteer
meetings at various locations; July's meeting will be held July 15 at the Earth
House at 6:30 p.m. More information about the group and dates for future
meetings can be found on the group's calendar at indianapolisoxfamactioncorps.blogspot.com.
New volunteers are welcomed.