I’m very proud of being a VSO. I love the fact that as a volunteer, we live in and among the community, getting to know it, and living similar (ish) lives to many of the locals.
It’s now though that I feel the real imbalance. The mere fact that I am leaving, is a huge possibility for me that’s not a possible reality for others. I can get a passport. If I work hard I can afford to book flights. I am not restricted on how many USDollars I can take out of the country. Other countries will open their doors to me, often with few questions asked, and I have a multitude of countries that I can live and work in.
This is not the case for many Ethiopians. And saying good bye to some of them is devastating – meeting them again is dependent on me coming back, there are many that don’t even have email. I’d love to be able to give to them what they have given so kindly and freely to me over the past 2 years: I’d show them around the UK, invite them to my house, meet my friends, introduce them to new and exciting food, show them a different way of life that they’re not used to, and discuss the strangeness of it all.
But, most likely, they’ll not get the passport, they wouldn’t be able to afford the flight, the country will limit what foreign currency they can take out of the country, and the chances are, they wouldn’t get the visa anyway.
Freedom, power and possibilities. It’s a lottery where you’re born – sometimes I feel like I won it, simply by being born in UK.