ABBIE Viveash used to be one of the “cynical masses” who wondered whether charitable donations make a difference to those they are meant to help – but a trip to one of the world’s poorest countries has changed her mind.

The 48-year-old former psychiatric nurse, from Croesyceiliog, Cwmbran, spent ten days in a rural area of the southern African country of Malawi during the summer, to see for herself the work Oxfam does to help ensure people have enough food all year round.

And her experience forms the centrepiece of the charity’s ‘See For Yourself’ fundraising campaign, which aims to show the lasting difference regular donations make to people living in extreme poverty.

Oxfam wanted an impartial member of the public for the campaign and launched a UK-wide search earlier this year, to which Ms Viveash responded.

Chosen – much to her surprise as a “self-confessed cynic” – she visited an Oxfam project in Malawi which supports a community to grow more drought-resistant crops and improve irrigation.

Ms Viveash met local people, and her personal, unscripted view of Oxfam’s work was filmed and forms the basis of the campaign, which launches today across television, radio, print and online advertising.

The campaign aims to encourage more people to donate to the charity on a regular basis.

“I’ve always thought charities were worthy causes, but I was one of the cynical masses that worried about where the money actually goes,” she said.

“You really need proof that the money that you’re giving is going to the place that it was intended to go to.

“The trip to Malawi was a real eye-opener. It showed me just how much Oxfam’s help is making a difference to the families I met.

“Their crops are flourishing, their agricultural knowledge is increasing and they readily share this with other people in the village.”

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