If you don’t know me and you read this blog, you’ve hopefully skipped to the About page to find out more. It read:
“I’m passionate about changing the world one politician at a time. It’s a broad and very long term goal, and hopefully this blog will help to track my progress. To that end, and to give myself a wee bit more real experience, I’m leaving my cushy job in London to spend a year volunteering with VSO. Much of this blog will be dedicated to this particular adventure over the next 18 months.”
On August 19 I was offered a truly brilliant VSO placement as a research advisor with the National Youth Council in Namibia. It offered the opportunity to spend 12 months, leaving mid-October working on a “national audit of youth development within the public sector and the impact of National Development Programs on young people both directly and indirectly…conduct[ing] research to understand how intensely public sector institutions impart youth development mainstreaming in their institutions. Significant focus shall be placed on gender, disability and rural youth dimensions of their specific interventions.” It was my dream placement and I would have loved to work in Namibia.
Unfortunately concerns about my health got in the way. In early August my GP had referred me to a specialist for further scans and tests following worries that I had further ovarian cysts developing. While these cysts are mostly harmless and generally don’t cause symptoms, I’d begun to feel strange twists and twinges and wasn’t feeling my usual healthy self. Below is a large chunk of email I sent to my wonderful VSO advisor:
“The last thing I want to do, clearly, is put VSO in a situation where I need emergency medical treatment or monitoring if I can help it. I believe it would be risky for me to agree to a placement at this point in the hope that all the tests are clear or that the problem isn’t severe…
I realise this puts VSO in a difficult position, I am not in a good position to be considered for any placement at the moment and I know that placements for YfD volunteers are few and far between at the moment.
Over the past week I have been considering whether it would be better for me to put the possibility of a placement on hold for a while, get my medical issues sorted and ensure everything is vaguely more under control (than it feels like it is currently) before I volunteer. As I’m already 25 and at the top of the YfD age bracket it might make more sense for me to work for a time, get more experience and my health back on track, and then reconsider volunteering with VSO.”
Somewhat unsurprisingly VSO agreed with me and my application for placement consideration was withdrawn a day later. I hope to be able to re-consider volunteering in a few years when my health concerns have settled down and when I’ve had a little more experience to offer.
It’s hard to explain what a difficult decision this was for me but I am sure now that it was the right one.