PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — While English actress and singer-songwriter Minnie Driver is known for her roles in movies and TV shows like “Good Will Hunting” and “About A Boy,” it may not be as well-known that she is dedicated to giving back to the world, wherever that may take her.
This time, her dedication took her to Southeast Asia with the Oxfam International in July. During this trip, Driver saw first-hand the living conditions and labor rights of women and children in garment factories.
While visiting a garment factory in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Driver saw six girls living in a space about the size of a prison cell. The only day of the year they do not have to work is Buddha’s birthday, while every other day they are forced to work in harsh conditions.
This factory in Cambodia is just one example of unjust factory conditions in developing countries for which Driver has been raising awareness through Oxfam International.
Ever since she completed her first sponsored swim for Oxfam when she was eight years old, Driver has been part of Oxfam International, making her one of this organization’s most long-standing supporters.
Driver traveled to Cambodia and Thailand in 2004 as part of the Make Trade Fair campaign, a project which aimed to draw more attention to how factory conditions are directly impacted by companies’ purchasing practices.
Motivating Driver in this journey to fighting global poverty is her five-year-old son Henry. According to Driver, “The notions of service and kindness are really, really big in our house. They’re things that we should all have, whether rich, poor, famous, or not famous. They’re qualities that we should all be fostering in ourselves and in our kids.”
Driver, as one of the 17 Oxfam Global Ambassadors, focuses on trade justice and has raised awareness about this particular issue by speaking to the media about the importance of fair world trade rules for developing countries.
These Global Ambassadors campaign on behalf of Oxfam International by using their celebrity status to fight poverty and injustice around the world. Actors, musicians, models and even one Nobel Peace Prize winner make up this group of ambassadors, and they each raise awareness on issues important to them, including as climate change, women’s issues and conflict resolution.
Other notable Oxfam Global Ambassadors include actors Kristin Davis, Colin Firth, Helen Mirren, Bill Nighy and the popular British rock band Coldplay.
Although it began in 1995 as a small group of NGOs, Oxfam International is now made up of 17 organizations working together to end poverty and injustice in more than 90 countries. Through its campaigns, Oxfam International mainly focuses on five issues: agriculture, climate change, conflicts and disasters, health and education and trade.
Minnie Driver is just one of the many celebrities who are doing their part in the fight against global poverty through Oxfam International, and she sums up the importance of fighting poverty: “Your only job, when you recognize that you have a lot, is to teach people that haven’t been so lucky how they can make their lives better for themselves. Your job is to, where you can, help.”
To learn more about Oxfam International, please visit Oxfam.org
– Meghan Orner