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WOMADelaide 2014: tales from a music festival volunteer.

Campaigns volunteer, Sophie Power, gives us her impression of volunteering at one of Australia’s favourite outdoor festivals — WOMADelaide.

Between  7-10 March 2014, intrepid volunteers braved the wind, dust, and oppressing heat of WOMADelaide and became Oxfam’s very own #foodheroes, totalling 150 hours of first class stall-holding. This is a special time in the calendar of Oxfam’s Adelaide volunteers, and we have many who come every year to participate in this wonderful event.

Having been to countless music festivals and camps over the years, WOMADelaide has taken over as my number one favourite festival in the world. The reason? The atmosphere.

No other festival seems to hold the same chilled out, family-friendly vibe, which sees people from every age revel in the wonder of world music. It’s an absolute privilege to be an Oxfam volunteer in this environment. We talked with strangers openly about land grabs, climate change, and the importance of eating locally.These quick chats would often lead to a wonderful conversation on that person’s travels to affected developing countries, their studies on world nutrition in public policy, or their recent signature to such a petition online.

More often than not people are willing to listen, engage with the issue, and see what they can do to help. PURE BLISS! Otherwise, if people don’t wish to engage at that moment, they are able to sail on by without being hawked.

This year was different, however, as this year our GROW campaign T-shirts not only turned us into a bunch of worldly-beings fighting poverty, but we became the first breed of #foodheroes.

With our fabulous new poster board cut-out, we convinced many a WOMAD-goer to join us in our campaign, telling us how they would save the world simply by using food! Reasons varied from “recycling more” or “buying only local produce”, to “eat all my veggies”. We also made thousands of badges, sold our hit GROW hessian bags for $2, and gave each new #foodhero their very own mask of identification.

There are other perks to being a WOMAD volunteer.

Reason number one: Byron Bay’s delectable organic chocolate donuts. These little beauties are freshly baked, organic, and ooze on the inside with fair trade dark chocolate. This was the major food group for the weekend, and your time at WOMAD was measured by how many were consumed.

Reason number two is the fantastic music we can hear both from the stall and wandering around in our breaks. This year we faced the main stage directly, so were able to listen to such wonders as Dub Inc, the French roots-reggae revivalists, combining reggae, dancehall, dub, ska and hip-hop into a mash of amazing beats that had the entire crowd jumping and screaming for more, to the incredible Asif Ali Khan- the “reigning prince” of Sufi music.

Even though conditions weren’t ideal with the heat and dancing-induced dustbowl, all our volunteers said how much fun they had and how excited they were for next year.