VSOs non grata

It appears that VSO volunteers are stereotyped to some extent here and in other countries. We are a varied bunch but have several things in common: always ready to make something out of nothing, looking to grab a challenge or opportunity, and always pretty skint…. The latter point is about managing the monthly allowance we get to live on.

Maputo is quite expensive, so the money doesn’t stretch far, especially as we tend to forget (as we order another cold beer or select something a bit pricier on the restaurant menu), that there’s still the electricity and water to pay for, the (pretty much obligatory) cleaning lady, as well as our share of the (totally obligatory) security guard’s pay…

But it seems that we are a British government (DFID) sponsored group that is excluded from the formal British invitation lists – here at least.  However, VSO now recruits volunteers in many other countries – Holland, India, Philippines, Uganda, Canada – countries whose relations with volunteers can be quite different.

For example, our Dutch volunteer colleagues were all cordially invited to the annual celebration of their late Queen Beatrix’s birthday (the night before the royal wedding in UK)…. so they each informally brought along one or two English colleagues. We were then able to enjoy the fun dancing party that followed the speeches and singing of national anthems (not to mention the tasty Dutch cheese, herring, eel and other snacks). At this party we bumped into the British High Commissioner, who was suddenly prompted by a fellow Dutch diplomat into inviting a few of us vols to the royal wedding celebration to be held the following day in Maputo.

So just when I thought I had totally escaped the royal hype, there was the possibility of going into that gorgeous British High Commission garden with its massive mango trees and white colonial mansion that I had seen many times from the street (Avenida Vladimir Lenine, corner with Avenida Ho Chi Minh). However, the following day after the Dutch party I had the worst hangover in 20 years, and thought I would give it a miss, until peer pressure got me and my banging head up from a supine position and into some presentable gladrags by noon.

Historic building

Iced Pimms, madam?

So I ended up seeing (some of) the royal wedding ceremony on the screens set up under said mango trees, together with a few hundred other guests, hearing the formal speeches and partaking of the rare beef cooked to perfection on huge spits. There was also (oh memory of school lunches!) bread & butter pudding and apple crumble & custard to pour over it all.  A truly English gastronomic memory trip.

English Sunday lunch Moz style

Good old roast beef (S. African?) and Yorkshire pud on plastic plate

So in true VSO style the royal wedding opportunity was grabbed and maybe as a result a few more positive international relations fostered – albeit at an informal and  individual level!


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2 Responses to VSOs non grata

  1. C’è todî les p’tits qu’on spotche : to summarize your recollection of humble volunteers status. That is a sentence that I heard from my mother’s mother when she was bitter at something. That is Walloon and it means : “It is always the small people who are walked over”.
    Well if it is plain truth that does not mean anything at all as all small people can reach the top spot ; proof is Kate Middletown who jumped some steps of the social ladder just with her smile and own will…
    I find myself in a professional turmoil again only this time I chose not to fall in deep depression and with my doctor’s help I am at home with a sick leave. It is true that to this day I am awaiting to learn if yes or no I will have to get an all brand new bone articulation in order to stop the pain that accompanies me since January.
    But as despite this pain weather& climate are gorgeous I have time to enjoy the Spring and to explore a new relationship as a three years old American cocker just entered into my life nearly two weeks ago. Decision to adopt it from an animal refuge came as an evidence for plenty of reasons. It comes as a good surprise to discover dogs are really a company. Taki is always around, resting at my feet and always ready to go outside and walk, walk, walk.
    Love, dear Prue and thank you for your posts.

    • prumoz says:

      Salut Agnes
      Toujours un plaisir recevoir de tes nouvelles. J’espere que tu n’es pas trop malade – que cela ne t’empeche pas de circuler… un petit repos a la maison est toujours bien. J’ecoute la radio en francais, car l’actualite en portugues a peu d’analyse et je ne trouve aucune station anglophone…. Soigne-toi bien et a plus… xxxx

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