Why I love my job
by Max Lawson, Policy Adviser, Oxfam GB
10 years ago on a sunny day in Birmingham, 70,000 people joined hands around a G8 meeting of world leaders in a human chain. They were there as part of the Jubilee 2000 campaign that called on world leaders to drop poor country debt. It was a day that changed the world for millions of people.
To celebrate this a 1000 campaigners, many of whom were there that day in 1998, returned to Birmingham to mark the 10th anniversary of that watershed moment.
I spoke on a panel about the impact that the debt campaign has had my job as a lobbyist, going to meetings with government officials and at the World Bank and IMF.
It’s simple really – the campaigning of thousands of people across the world opens the doors for lobbyists like me. Without that my job would be impossible.
And debt relief has been an amazing thing.
$88 billion dollars of debt have been cancelled since 1998, and it has meant millions more children in school, free healthcare in countries like Uganda and Zambia, and improvements in the lives of millions.
I saw this myself when I lived in Malawi at the central teacher training college in 1999-2002. When I arrived the college had been closed for months for lack of money. But then along came debt relief, and since then it has been open full time. I knew then I wanted to be a part of this movement for change.
The job is far from done though, and at least $400 billion still needs cancelling. Jamaica, a population of 2 million people, is still paying back a staggering $1 billion dollars a year! For every $1 dollar given in aid, poor countries still pay back $5 dollars.
The Jubilee activists that spoke were incredibly inspiring, and I was really glad I went. They ranged from young activists who were in primary school in 1998 to the incredible army of grey panthers who are veterans going back decades.
This is people power at its best, and it is the reason I love my job. I really believe that campaigners like these can and are making a difference, and we need to keep the pressure on those rich country leaders to do the right thing, at the Japanese G8 this summer and beyond.
Video by the Jubilee Debt Campaign