I am currently enrolled in the 18 month "Fighting with the Poor" program at the Richmond Vale Academy. Before coming to the Caribbean, I had worked 8 years for the same company and felt that I wanted a change in my life. The office job was making me unhappy and left me lacking a sense of meaning. I didn't feel like I was contributing anything to the community or the world and the days by the computer were rather monotone and exhausting.The atmosphere in my home country, Finland, was becoming more and more hostile towards immigrants and the news were full of stories about the worsening refugee crisis. A lot of people seemed to blame the refugees for being greedy and only after easy money. Some even threw burning bottles full of gasoline into a house full of asylum-seeking women and children. Many were encouraging men to rape women defending the human rights of the refugees.
I have always felt that there is something that isn't explained or told in the news about the world. That there is only one side and that side is interested in preserving its hegemonic position. I have also felt that there is something not right about the way we live and how the world is organized. We have money to finance endless wars and make expeditions to Mars but we can't eradicate poverty or hunger.
Having had this feeling of unease for a while about the biased news, the catastrophic state of the environment and the inequality that is so clearly seen inside our developed societies and even more clearly among different nations, I wanted to start looking for alternatives. I wanted to find out what I can do, first, to understand what is going on in the world and, secondly, to change it.
Richmond Vale Academy seemed to suit my goals nicely, since it offered a program with a combination of theoretical studies about poverty and forces that run the world and practical work with communities that are considered the losers of our economic system. We spent the first 6 months studying basic skills needed at the project and reading about what makes this world unjust and the next 6 months working as volunteers in Ecuador and Belize.
I now have a more profound understanding of "the other side" of the news.
Now when I see cheap clothes in a store of a multinational fashion chain, I see the child or underpaid woman on the other side of the world making these items under horrible working conditions with no basic rights. Or the polluted air, rivers and land around these factories. Or the huge areas of forests and other vegetation cut down to make room for cotton fields. When I see a plastic bag, I see the whale dying because of all the plastic in its stomach that it thought was food.
We as consumers, citizen and humans have a responsibility to act so that we don't kill our wildlife, poison our oceans and lands and enslave other humans so that we can enjoy our comfortable lives. So I would encourage everyone to choose wisely, educate themselves and others and act!