Just two months ago I ended the most incredible journey of my life. 18 months of hard work had paid of and I could call myself a Development Instructor. It all started with my decision to leave my old life behind, dropping out of university. Leaving my friends and abandoning the idea of doing the same that all of them were doing. Get a degree, a job, a family, kids, a house, a car and all what follows.
I can tell you is not easy, probably the most frightening decision I have ever taken in my life. But to this day I look back and only have gratitude in my heart for making that choice.
If you are sitting out there with the same feeling as me, the feeling of doing something more, escaping the shackles of society, then take the jump, go out in the world. Get some experience first hand it beats any university degree. Trust me.
I want to tell you what the program has meant for me. When I arrived here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines my only work experience was a supermarket like an assistant manager. So you could imagine that I had absolutely no idea about development work and what it would demand from me. In my first months we started to look into what poverty means and what factors actually are driving this immensely complex issue. The more I learned the more I realized that poverty is not just some coincidental life circumstance that for some reason affects certain people.
I never really posed myself the question of why some countries are poor and some are not.
The more i got into answering this question the more it fueled a passion in me for doing something that would not just be about me, but about others. In reality I discovered how privileged I was, born in a small European country where health, education and unemployment benefits are free. This privilege has not come about because my country was better off, no my ancestors and those of my neighbors were responsible for it and the way they acquired it, was not pretty.
After my 6 months training in the comfort of the school, I traveled to Belize, a small country most people haven't heard of in Central America, I moved into a small thatch house in the village of Santa Ana, here the majority of the people were Mayan, the Indigenous people of Belize. From the start it quickly dawned on me what it means to struggle every single day.
To work from morning to night just to be able to put food on the table. This is the reality of many of the families living there. Me and my teammates working closely with a local named Isaias. One day he invites us to his house for a meal. When I came it humbled me to see even though they did very little they still offered one of largest meal I have ever eaten to this date, while the family got a smaller portion.
It's strange how usually the people having the least always offer the most, while those who have, are reluctant to share.
After our meal, Isaias showed us around, he pointed out two solar lamps and told us it was his most prized possessions, he had saved up for months just to buy them. At night many houses did not have light so for most people the day would end early and many kids would be unable to do their homework in the darkness.
Some would even go out the streets and prepare for the next day there under the streets light. It was not like i felt pity with him, he was one of the most kind and positive people I have ever met. But I couldn't help to think that in someway this cannot be fair, in this today's world we have most of the answers to solve the problems such as his. A world where as the growing inequality is pushing humans into the ground and keeps them there. We have to be better. All of us. This experience and many others completely changed my outlook on my life.
When I came back to the school to finished my program, I came to the conclusion I needed to do something more, I couldn't live with contradictions of being unhappy with the structure in which our world functions and not do something about it.
I think more and more people are feeling this way, and that gives me some peace of mind, but to be honest we have a long way to go.
The economic system is becoming worse each day, creating more inequality than I could ever imagine. Something is really wrong when 68 people have more than 3.5 billion people on this earth, there is no way it can be justified.
Now we also see the scary reality of climate change, affecting more and more people, mostly those who never contributed to in the first place. For me the choice became simple, there was no way i could go back and take up my old comfortable lifestyle, knowing what I know now. I think many people, have the same feeling, but dont really know where to start.
I can say being a volunteer teacher in another country, even just for 6 months makes a huge difference in your life and maybe in someone else's.