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VIETNAM: Farming and the Gods SOUTH AFRICA: AIDS and Welfare INDONESIA: Mining and the Body HONG KONG: Youth, Video and Change

8 00 t2 us ug A

I recently went to southern Africa

the most shocking is gender violence:

portance of their

focusing on bet-

projects I could see firsthand reaf-

for an international poverty meet-

every year, more than one million wom-


ter agriculture that

firmed my belief that our focus on

ing in Johannesburg and to observe

en and girls are raped. A girl born in

My next stop was

will bring in more

empowering women is the right way

Oxfam Hong Kong projects with wom-

South Africa has a greater likelihood of

Z a m b ia , w hi ch fa ce s

en in Zambia.

being raped before the age of sixteen

lower levels of violence, but

than of learning how to read.

By the time I left, I was reassured of

income, especially for

forward in Africa.

wo m e n . I v i s i te d v illa g e s

In the rest of O.N.E, you have the

a higher poverty rate. The country

where women are growing high-value

chance to read about AIDS in South

two things: Oxfam must continue our

Oxfam is suppor ting coalitions

ranks 165th out of 177 in the United

crops, both to earn more money and

Africa, land and religion in Indonesia

work in the region, and our strategic

of women’s groups that campaign,

Nations Human Development Index,

for better nutrition.

and Vietnam, and youth and social

goal of improving people’s livelihoods

educate and lobby against the vio-

partially because it neglected the ru-

Oxfam knows that women are the

and sense of security are the right pri-

lence. The people in these coalitions

ral areas for many years, so poverty

backbone of most rural communities

orities, especially for women.

are doing excellent and urgent work,

kept increasing. There is now more

– literally in terms of hauling water

welfare in Hong Kong. Enjoy the read.

While I was in Johannesburg, vio-

but maybe my Oxfam America col-

community development work being

and firewood and tilling the land,

lence against foreigners broke out in

league Ray Offenheiser says it best,

done to provide rural people with a

but also in terms of their willingness

John Sayer

the townships. Violence is an everyday

“to describe them as ‘heroes’ would

better life.

to work in collective efforts for the

Director General

occurrence in South Africa, and by far

be to understate the value and im-

betterment of the whole village. The

Oxfam Hong Kong

GODS, PEOPLE, LAND and INCOME Van Kieu farmers in Vietnam By Pham Tung Lam

Ox fam Hong Kong, for one, is

Although the national poverty rate fell from 58.1 per cent in 1993 to an estimated 16 per cent in 2006, poverty remains in Vietnam, especially among the ethnic minority population who tend to live in remote, isolated and mountainous regions of the country. As Vietnam develops, the gaps between rich and poor people, between urban and rural populations, and between the Kinh and ethnic minorities are widening. For example, the poverty rate among Kinh and Chinese is only 10.3 per cent, while among ethnic minorities, poverty stands at 52.3 per cent. In the central highlands of Quang Tri, where a farmer named Ho Thi Hom lives, she and her fellow Van Kieu people face a poverty rate of about 62 per cent. Quang Tri and Nghe An are two Ho Thi Hom has doubled her rice harvest in Oxfam's project / Photo: Pham Tung Lam

GODS, PEOPLE, LAND and INCOME Van Kieu farmers in Vietnam

ularly, and makes offerings of chicken

so clear and the application so easy, that

and sticky rice to ensure that Yàng is

it just seemed too good to be true, but

happy and supportive of her crops. For

it was!” Hom said, holding some newly

important occasions, Van Kieu people

harvested rice in her hands.

may even sacrifice a buffalo, their most

She also tried new ways of raising her two pigs through the Oxfam-IDE

prized farm animal. In the past, Hom’s average rice yield

training. No longer does she cook feed

was only 100kg per sao, compared with

but makes a simple mixture of fish, wa-

250kg on the coastal plains. This was

ter, and powder from cassava, rice and

only enough to feed her family for six

peanut. She also learned about animal

months. For the other half of the year,

nutrition and after three months, her

she had to spend about US$100 to buy

pigs weighed 60kg each, bringing in a

her own rice, and would rely on rice

significant extra income.

from the national reserve, which the

“It used to take us twice as much

government allocates to poorer prov-

time to get half of what we had now.

inces. To raise that US$100, she would

Therefore, we decided to continue with

sell her chickens or pigs, forage in the

the new method and we were able to

forest for mushrooms, and engage in

make over 200,000 VND net profit from


just one pig,” she said with a smile, and

“Raising pigs was a hard job then,”

a hint of pride.

Hom said. “I got up early in the morn-

With the money and some savings,

ing to cook the pig feed, worked in the

Hom built a better, enclosed latrine

fields all day, and when I returned home

for the family, and enlarged the pig

late in the day I couldn’t rest at all. I had

sty so that she could raise four pigs at

to prepare the feed again.”

a time.

Her life changed for the better when

“I will definitely raise even more pigs

she joined the rice cultivation train-

in the future,” she said. “I feel very com-

Photo: Pham Ngoc Tinh

ing in 2006; the activity was part of a

fortable with this new no-cook method

priority provinces for Oxfam, and it is no

“Before the project began, life was

tassium oxide for the whole rice paddy.

market-based model by Oxfam Hong

and I don’t think I will ever go back to

coincidence that both areas have high

so difficult for us,” Hom recalled. “We

Strictly speaking, this was against the

Kong and International Development

the conventional way. I now have more

ethnic minority populations, particu-

worked all day in the fields, but we

traditional customs of the Van Kieu,

Enterprises (IDE) which aimed to im-

time to look after my children and the

larly Quang Tri.

could never grow enough to eat.

rice paddy.”

who believe their God named Yàng Cute

prove the incomes of 200 families. She

Ho Thi Hom, 52, grows rice, cassava

“The project also helped build my

would not allow any human interven-

carefully observed the demonstration

Hom is now more than a farmer: she

and corn on the slopes of Truong Son

confidence,” she continued. “When I

tion with the soil – it was seen as an in-

models and then attended additional

is also a trainer. She belongs to a group

Mountain, near Laos. It is steep land,

saw how successful the demonstration

vasion of the God’s domain.

training in a new way of production

of key farmers who teach hundreds of

at 2,500 metres high. She also raises

plots were that had been set up in the

The Van Kieu believe in Yàng, with

and fertiliser application called ‘fer-

other women in the nearby villages

chickens. When her rice yield doubled

village, I thought I should try something

different Yàng for the forest, moun-

tiliser deep placement’. She also learned

about the new cultivation and the pig

by applying new farming methods, her

new… We started with just one ‘sao’ of

tains, rivers, rice and other things in the

about composting. Her rice yield is now

raising methods.

husband and three children all agreed

land, and I saw such good results.”

natural world. If any of the Yàng Gods is

almost 200 kg per sao annually, twice

Yàng does not seem to be up -

that it was the most important thing

Encouraged by the experiment with

angered, that Yàng may express it in the

as much as before, and the family food

set. There is harmony. The villagers in

that had ever happened to the family.

the one sao (500sqm), she and her hus-

form of storms, bad harvests, or bring-

supply is secure.

Quang Tri still respect their Gods, the

On harvest day, they killed three chick-

band decided to use pellets of an envi-

ing illnesses to the people. Yang Cute is

ens for a feast, and invited neighbors

ronmentally-friendly fertiliser made of

the God of land.

to celebrate their happiness.

nitrogen, phosphorous oxide and po-

Hom also believes in Yàng, prays reg-


Can HIV Patients have both? There is a serious challenge in the

count is, the weaker the immune sys-

By Navin Vasudev

started as a way to curb the pandemic

tem.) Another requirement for HIV-

as well as poverty, has sometimes led

AIDS response.

AIDS patients is that they must be un-

to a conundrum with huge and highly problematic implications.

Currently, the government offers

dergoing antiretroviral (ARVs) treatment. All this seems quite logical and

zens in need, including the disability

appears to be a pretty good deal.

ods because we had never seen them applied in our village. The results were

land and themselves. Pham Tung Lam is Communications Manager with Oxfam Hong Kong. He is based in Hanoi.


South African government’s HIV and

several social support grants to its citi-

“At first, I did not believe the meth-

Oxfam is aware of this trend and is monitoring the situation to develop

• AIDS is the leading cause of death • Death rate is highest among women of child-bearing age, female teenagers, and young girls

• • 18.7% of adults age 20-64, were HIV-positive in 2004 • 10.8% of total population were HIV-positive in 2004 • KwaZulu-Natal has the highest prevalence rate, as of 2005 • about 6 million people will die from AIDS-related causes over the next About 4.5 million people had HIV in 2000

10 years

grant which HIV-positive patients can

Yet, there is a problem.

ways to address the issue. Since 1998, we

apply for. At around USD107 per month,

Let’s say a person’s T-cell count is

have been running large-scale anti-HIV

this grant may seem minuscule in this

175. She or he goes on ARVs, gets the

and AIDS programme in South Africa

better legislation. For several years, we

nal evaluation conducted in 2004/2005

middle-income country that ranks in

disability grant, and begins to feel

to prevent the spread of infection, to

have been focusing on KwaZulu-Natal,

recommended that we scale-up the pro-

the world’s top 20 GDP. Yet, one-third

healthy again. The immune system is

improve treatment, to reduce stigma

the province with the highest preva-

gramme, and we have begun working

of the families in South Africa live on

strengthening, and therefore, there

and discrimination, and to advocate for

lence rates, and in Limpopo. An exter-

in Eastern Cape, too.

less than USD 100 a month, one-third

are fewer infections and other illnesses.

of the population is unemployed, and

Then, because the ARVs are doing their

the country’s rich-poor gap is one of the

job, the T-cell count goes up over 200,

For more information on HIV & AIDS: http://www.

widest in the world.

above the limit. The grant is promptly

Navin Vasudev leads Oxfam Hong Kong's work in southern Africa from his base in Johannesburg.

Simply put, the government’s so-


cial grants have become integral to

Considering the importance of the

many families’ survival: for very poor

income provided by the grant, HIV pa-

families, the grant can be twice the av-

tient-recipients have sometimes been

erage monthly income. Studies show

willing to take risks to ensure that the

that the disability grant has been used

funds continue coming in. So, in order

to support entire families, and house-

to keep the T-cell count below the 200

holds with access to social grants have

limit, some patients have been known

been more likely to work their way out

to reduce the prescribed amount of

of poverty.

ARVs or stop taking them altogether.

People with HIV must have a T-cell

They put their own health at risk for

count below 200 to be eligible for the

the sake of the income, which may be

disability grant. (The lower one’s T-cell

supporting their whole family. What

Sources: South Africa Department of Health, South Africa National HIV Survey (2005)

Photo: HIV test at an Oxfam-supported organisation in Phalaborwa, South Africa / Oxfam Australia / Gcina Ndwalene

in South Africa

If you find time to come to West

National Park. Local government has

Initially, the Mollo people did not

gan, and she says her neighbours have

Timor, drop by Mollo. It isn’t a must,

also allowed marble mining of the

understand marble and mining. When

lost more. Last but certainly not least,

but you will not be dissatisfied with

mountains. In all, the land accessible

the talk of marble began, they thought

landslides come, slowly but frequently,

the beauty. Mollo has cool air, casua-

to the people is getting smaller and

it would beautify the stone, and they

covering homes, crops and sometimes,

rinas trees, rocky hills, savannas, cows,

smaller, as is their sense of well-being;

agreed to the plan. They soon realised

people. The Naipitan experience has

wild horses, and people will welcome

the forestry policy and government-en-

that mining meant cutting up the stone

convinced every last person of Mollo to

you into their round homes, and wear-

dorsed development projects have im-

and transporting it out of Mollo, and

reject marble mining.

ing beautifully hand-woven clothing,

poverished the people.

even though they may have little to of-

The Mollo people have tried many

fer you by way of meals or gifts. Poverty

ways to regain their land, through di-

is part of what will guide you around

alogue, negotiation, demonstrations,

the island.

and even sabotage. They have won

In a way, Mollo is already the richest

some, lost others, and refuse to sur-

part of Timor. With rivers and moun-

render. They have been intimidated,

tains, including Mutis Mountain, the

threatened, beaten and imprisoned for

highest in West Timor, there are many

their dissent, yet remain strong in their

natural resources. Mollo borders Mina

views, firm in their commitment to re-

River and Timau Mountain, and almost

gain what has been lost.

everyone here is a farmer, growing corn,

People of Mollo view nature as body:

tubers and other crops, and rearing

stone as bone, soil as flesh, water as

cows, buffalos and horses. The animals

blood, and forest as skin, lung and hair.

are branded and then either worked to

Stone is particularly essential in their

plough the fields or let loose to roam

view. Without stone, life is incomplete,

the grasslands, much of which used to

unstable, frail, tentative.

NATURE AS BODY Land and Life in Mollo, Indonesia By Siti Maemunah

they strongly protested. They filed a

But please do not change your mind.

case against both the local govern-

I still suggest you visit Mollo. At least

ment and the mining company, which

you will be able to enjoy the natural

has tried to mine six mountains. Five

beauty of the land, even if it will come

mountains have been protected, but

with destitution. I also think that a spe-

Naitapan Mountain, in the village of

cial inner beauty will come to you, a

Tunua, was ‘skinned’ three years ago.

beauty felt in the Mollo people’s deep,

Flesh has been torn. Bones protrude.

physical connection with nature. Their

Waste stone covers the base of the

pursuit of well-being is sure to inspire.


When you come, you will see a

A village woman named Naomi

five-kilometre-long fence encircling a

Mnune talks about the impact in Tunua.

mountain that had once been mined

The water quality and supply has de-

for Naususu and Anjaf, but which has

teriorated. The Tokseko, Tokseok and

since been stopped due to the hard

Kuisfolo springs dry up, something

campaigning of the Mollo people. Made

which has never happened before, she

with local timber by local people, the

says. “There are 48 families who use the

fence is a symbol of their work to re-

springs. Now we have to walk farther

claim their stone, their bones, their land

be forest. Most people have between

Stone does more than strengthen

0.1 to 0.5 hectares of land which is seen

the soil and keep it secure through

ate precisely in this Naususu stone. The

away, for two hours, to get water at the

and their rights. Every time I see the

as being owned both by the community

rain or wind. People of Mollo believe

company has about 20 different min-

next village. Then, we have another two

fence, I imagine them standing hand

and by the family. Little of the crop is

that stone absorbs and retains water,

ing sites in the Mollo and nearby Flores,

hours to carry it back home. Our life is so

in hand, as strong as a rock. As long

set aside for seeds, most of the land is

and therefore can keep the surround-

and the capacity of marble is said to be

much more difficult. Lots of tubers have

as there is rock, there is also flint, the

not irrigated, and there is only one cul-

ing soil moist and fertile. Stone is the

approximately 3.5 trillion cubic metres.

died, as has corn. Our livestock drink wa-

promise of fire, of change, for a stron-

tivating season: one harvest must last

foundation, above which is soil, and

Typically, the company cuts Naususu,

ter that has been contaminated by min-

ger, deeper life.

for the whole year. This has been the

then topsoil.

the stone of all stones, the bone, the

ing waste. First their heads puff up, then

mother, the root of life, into one-me-

they die.” Naomi has lost seven cows

Siti Maemunah is the National Coordinator of Mining Advocacy Alliance (JATAM). Oxfam Hong Kong began working with JATAM earlier this year.

tre cubes.

and eighteen pigs since the mining be-

All photos by NM Rulliady

Mollo way of life for centuries.

People’s respect for stone is appar-

In Mollo, people feel deeply con-

ent throughout Mollo history and ev-

nected with nature. They realise they

eryday culture. Two of their words for

are alive because of nature, and to-

‘stone’, ‘fautkanaf’ and ‘batunama’,

gether with nature. Thus, they knew

even lead to many surnames, including

their life would be ruined if separated

the names of these main clans: Ba'un,

from nature. This happened when the

Fui, Lasa, Nani, Seko, Sumbanu, Tanisip

Forestry Department began its refor-

and Toto. (Interestingly, few names

estation of the savanna plains back in

come from ‘water’.)

the 1960s. Through the decades, hun-

Of all the stones in Mollo, it is

dreds of thousands of casuarinas trees

Naususu that is revered first and fore-

have been planted by the company

most – it is considered to be the oldest

Hutan Tanaman Industri on thousands

stone. The word Naususu means a moth-

of hectares of indigenous community

er who is breastfeeding, so the stone

land, mostly in 1974, 1977, 1983, 1996,

can be regarded as the first mother.

and recently. The trees have exhausted

The Mollo people also liken the Naususu

the water supply, and when the land

stone to a strong root, and the moun-

was fenced in, animals could not easily

tain that surrounds it as tree branches.

reach what water remained. Separated

Thomas Ola, a traditional doctor and

from nature, thousands of livestock

community leader in Mollo, explains it

have died.

this way, “roots of a tree support trunks

Other government projects have

and branches, so if the roots are pulled

also affected the land, essentially

out, the tree will collapse, and if the

changing the ownership from communi-

trunk is damaged, the tree will sink.”

ty land into state-owned land with dif-

Nevertheless, the Nusa Tenggara

ferent status, from Production Forest,

provincial government has given per-

Protected Forest to Nature Reserve or

mission to a mining company to oper-

Naitapan Mountain was 'skinned' for its marble, despite protests by the residents / Photo: NM Rulliady

VOICE HONG KONG CLIMATE Six action groups call for carbon dioxide emissions to be capped in the Air Pollution Control Ordinance: right now, the Hong Kong SAR Government does not regulate CO2 emissions of its two power companies, which account for about 70% of all CO2 emissions. Please add your voice to this campaign ( – if action is not taken soon, now, Hong Kong winters may disappear within just 20 years, according to The Hong Kong Observatory. Oxfam Hong Kong is also calling to stop climate change, to stop the poverty it is bringing around the world:


in Hong Kong Video for Change

OXFAM BOOKS Two books have gone into their second print run: one on disasters and poverty, featuring new articles on the Sichuan earthquake and the Myanmar cyclone, and the second on people who receive social welfare in Hong Kong. Both books featured at one of Asia’s largest book fairs, at the end of July. Both books are in Traditional

Text and Photo by Genna Leung

Chinese. To order books:

“We don’t read our world from

and disrespect, both by civil servants

sic right, we should not discriminate

books, we don’t listen to the radio, but

and the general public. It seems no one

against the people who exercise this


you can catch our attention through

in Hong Kong, CSSA and non-CSSA re-

right,” Tommy said.

HONG KONG – CNN quoted Oxfam Hong Kong (on 7 July) that the government’s

the image. Nowadays, we use our eyes

cipients alike, wants to have to depend

Oxfam Hong Kong has provided this

main welfare scheme, Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA), is still

to receive and respond,” said Tommy, a

on welfare, as they know they will be

kind of short-term interactive training

“seen as charity” by the public, even if the bulk of the recipients are elderly. In Hong

teenager who joined an Oxfam Hong

looked down upon: self-reliance is an

with youth since 2006. “It has allowed

Kong, 1 out of 7 people is elderly, and 2 out of 5 of them are poor. Oxfam has

Kong training at the Hong Kong School

extremely strong norm in Hong Kong.

our students to be immersed in a social

been advocating CSSA reform since 2003 and views receiving the assistance as a “basic right”.

of Creativity. “Faced with so much mass

Comprehensive Social Securit y

issue for a few months long, which sel-

media, we don’t spend an hour to read

Assistance (CSSA) aims to provide a ba-

dom happens,” said Winkie Ho, a teach-

through all the information and digest

sic assistance for low-income people,

er at Hong Kong School of Creativity.

it, we select the parts that catch our eye:

most of whom are elderly, people with

“The outcome of visiting real cases [of

this becomes our perception. I see how

a disability and single parents. Based

welfare recipients] is much more pow-

the Hong Kong public has perceived re-

on the Oxfam-commissioned survey,

erful and effective than a typical school

cipients of CSSA (the government’s main

“Perception and Utilization of the CSSA

lesson. Through the video, the youth

social welfare scheme), and that’s why

- A study on views of the public on the

also spread the message to their class-

we’re making short films to respond to

lower income people” in June 2007,

mates. I really believe that it has been

these impressions.”

the predominant view is that recipients

a wonderful experience for the partici-

Tommy was one of 15 participants,

are “lazy, not willing to find a job [and]

pants, not only for their intellectual de-

aged 15 to 17, who joined the three-

abusive” of the welfare system. Some

velopment, but also for their personal

month training by Oxfam and Video

of the public also believe that “the ex-

growth and confidence build-up.”

Power, with video-making, poverty

pense for CSSA in government is increas-

Oxfam Hong Kong has always seen

analysis, and dialogue with poor peo-

ing every year and will be a burden to

youngsters as drivers of positive, sus-

ple who receive social welfare. The

Hong Kong’s economic growth”. Most

tainable change. The youth programme

youth developed their creative skills

respondents got their information from

has developed through the years :

to work against discrimination against

television (75 per cent) and newspapers

Oxfam gave talks to schools in the

these welfare recipients in Hong Kong,

(71 per cent).

1970s and 80s, established the Resource

and this primarily happened because

The participants decided to voice out

Library in 1992, set up Oxfam Club in

the youth saw, heard and felt, face to

the CSSA recipients’ reality by making

1997, Cyberschool in 2000, and the

face, the real situation: the people’s

a two-minute film, which took them

Interactive Education Centre in 2005.

daily poverty and their tears and anger.

three weeks, and then uploading it to

Through a more interactive approach,

Tommy and other teenagers said that

Youtube. They screened the film at a

such as by using visual art, drama and

they had never imagined so many dif-

press conference protesting CSSA dis-

photography shooting in workshops

ficulties; they had no idea that the ap-

crimination, at which they shared their

and trainings, youth have more ways

plication procedure was so humiliating

experiences with the press as well as

to speak out for themselves, and for

and intimidating, almost always with

with the four Hong Kong Legislative

poor people.

delays and mishandlings, and some-

Councilors who also attended. “If we

times treated with outright rudeness

assume accessing social security is a ba-

New PartnerOrganisation

Genna Leung works on development education with Oxfam Hong Kong.

PHILIPPINES – GM ANews.T V reported (on 18 July) the launch of a new 10-year programme in Mindanao, by Oxfam Hong Kong, Oxfam Great Britain and Oxfam Netherlands. “Poverty is greatest in Mindanao [as high as 47%] and is exacerbated by conflicts,” an Oxfam spokesperson said. The programme will focus on income generation and peace-building, with gender justice and minority rights as essential components.

One of many peace zones established in Mindanao

MOKUNG Oxfam Hong Kong publishes this quarterly magazine in Traditional Chinese. Mokung, which means both “no poverty” and “infinity”, highlights a different aspect of development in each issue. The Editor is Tung Tsz-kwan. The March 2008 edition looks at the poverty news poll in Hong Kong. To subscribe: Mokung is online at

ONE O.N.E – Oxfam News E-magazine – is uploaded monthly at To receive a copy in your inbox, please subscribe – it is free. To subscribe:

Every day, Oxfam Hong Kong works

are supporting for the first time. The

alongside hundreds of groups around

location indicates where the project is

the world, from small NGOs to inter-

being implemented.

national bodies, from government de-


17th Floor, 28 Marble Road, Northpoint, Hong Kong

at Beijing Normal University

O. N .E is also on-line:

partments of developing countries to community groups based in Hong Kong. Here is 1 ‘partner organisation’ that we

• China Labour Studies Centre

Hong Kong

Editor: Madeleine Marie Slavick

COVER: Gcina Ndwalane / Oxfam Australia


O.N.E - August 2008  

AIDS and Welfare in Sourth Africa

O.N.E - August 2008  

AIDS and Welfare in Sourth Africa