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KathmanJew: Volunteering in Fair Trade
07 January 2008, 23:51
by Navonel Glick

"Your plan is upside down. Just donate a couple of dollars a month to a [charitable] organization," said the Bangladeshi owner of my local Internet cafe, when he heard I was abandoning my university studies to volunteer in Nepal.

To him my plan was "upside down". He'd balanced multiple jobs during his engineering studies in Bangladesh, finished 2nd in his class, all to be one of the lucky few to leave his poor country for rich Canada, and send money home, from the profits of his tiny computer store.

My plan was incomprehensible to him. Why was I leaving my privileged life to go to that poor, hectic, crazy region of the world that he'd done all he could to leave.

Why volunteer in the first place?