‘We Don’t Think Charity Is the Way to Resolve Global Inequality’ Says Oxfam International Boss
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
When Winnie Byanyima arrived in Britain, a frightened 17 year-old fleeing Idi Amin’s brutal regime, she was immediately arrested.
The $300 pressed into her hand by her mother as they parted ways in Kenya – after crossing the Ugandan border together under cover of darkness – turned out to be fake. Ms Byanyima was found out as she tried to change the black-market notes into sterling at the airport.
“The policeman looked at me crying and saw I was an innocent young girl,” she says, chuckling softly now about the ordeal.
“He tore up the money and advised me never to get any except from a proper bank.
“Of course I laughed: in Uganda you couldn’t go to a bank and get currency. But he forgave me. I was so relieved, I have loved the British bobby ever since.”
The story doesn’t end there. When the police had finished with her, on that day nearly 40 years ago, she eventually met her sister who was already living in England.
“She took me straight into an Oxfam shop and bought me a coat.”
The choice of charity shop proved fitting. Ms Byanyima has gone on to fight global inequality as the executive director of Oxfam International.