WORKING IN THE WEST BANK The recession may have disrupted your long-term career plans here in the UK, but travel overseas to work with those less fortunate and you’ll soon have a new perspective, says Bel Trew
t is 6pm, just outside Balata Refugee camp, in The West Bank, Palestine. A football match is in its closing seconds; some kids are in trainers, most are not. The final goal is scored and one boy, shirt over his head, starts doing a victory lap around the scrubby concrete pitch. Their 28-year-old referee and coach, James*, gently consoles the losers in broken Arabic. The boys chatter away in basic English about Real Madrid and next week’s match. They tease James about his height and his sunburnt nose.
Two months previously, at 6pm James would have been in a suit at his desk in the City. “I knew about the ‘re-structure’ almost a month before it happened, it wasn’t a case of ‘if’, just ‘when’. I was determined to make the most if it. It is terrifying and wonderful at the same time to take break from your career, from your life. So I took my redundancy package and decided to come to Palestine. To work with people who have so little.” James is not alone.The VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) has seen a two-fold increase