Duyen Nguyen works as a manager at a Los Angeles internet company, but she spends much of her free time volunteering as one of two "co-leaders" for the Oxfam Action Corps.
The Oxfam Action Corps is a group of dedicated volunteers in over a dozen US cities who campaign with Oxfam to fight poverty. Each city has two trained volunteer co-leaders who welcome and orient other volunteers throughout the year.
"We do everything, from visiting legislators to gathering signatures at concerts," she says. "I love the breadth of the activities involved, and the opportunities to learn through each of them."
Born in Vietnam and raised in Canada, Nguyen was drawn to Oxfam's international focus and commitment to fighting poverty worldwide. She says she feels a personal connection with Oxfam's climate change campaign, in part because of her Vietnamese heritage.
"I saw a story on the Vietnam news station about the town of Hue, where my mom visited last year," she says. "People there used to experience flooding at the same time every year, and it had become a normal way of life. They developed a strategy for dealing with floods—they would go to live on boats for a few weeks during the worst of the rainy season. After the storms cleared, they would return to their homes and repair the damage."
But climate change has broken down these traditions. In recent years, the floods now come to Hue as often as four times a year; and when they do come, they are more severe. The cycle of people's lives has changed because they have less time to recover.
"The watermarks on the walls of people's houses showed how dramatically the flooding increased. Once the watermarks were only waist high, but now they reach to shoulder or even eye level," says Nguyen.
"To me, this is the bottom line of our climate change campaign: trying to show the human face, and tell the stories of people dealing with changes in their environment. It's up to us to get those stories heard."