By Aniekpeno Mkpanang

I am in my Village. It’s a Saturday evening and a coterie of enthusiasts and aficionados have converged to root for the Arsenal Football Club of London at another of their hebdomadal Premier League obligations in the ongoing English Football Season.

Already, the giant television screen in the compound is alive with pre-match snippets and the unrelenting seminal pundits are making hearts pound faster with their curious and furious real-time incisive and analytical verbiage. More fans begin settling into the 250-seater Godswill Akpabio Arena in our homestead. The youths of the municipality join me their ‘senior man’ (as they choose to adulate me sometimes) and we brandish some bragging rights shortly before the duel ignites. It’s Match Day live! Gradually, the atmosphere goes electric with the kick-off. Eventually, at the blast of the final whistle, our preferred team, Arsenal FC are victors and that then is all that was needed to trigger a long night as we chant (Arsenal, Arsenal, Arsenal) and gyrate and amplify the ecstasy of the win.

Unknown to many watching the match in the arena with me, my luggage is ready and at daybreak when most of them will still be asleep, I would be on my way to get on the first Ibom Air flight from Uyo to Lagos.

A few hours later when the young ones would have woken up to reminisce and savour Arsenal’s last night’s victory all over again, I would have been airborne already and possibly preparing for landing in some far away unbelievable corner of the globe.

This is the amazing world of international volunteering; a case of living in Nigeria and serving abroad; an incredible adventure that can change your life as you know it.

From the UEFA League Cup Final in Basel, Switzerland, to the UEFA Champions League Finals in Cardiff, Wales and Milan, Italy; From the budding Accra Marathon in West Africa to the classic Dubai Jazz Festival in the Middle East, I’ve had the privilege of serving as a global volunteer, making a difference in various prestigious and estimable events across the globe and loving every minute of it.

Recently, I had the honour of volunteering at the African Cup of Nations tournament in Cote d’Ivoire, where I witnessed first-hand, the vehement power of solidarity through football and then the incredibly vast impact we can make when we unite for a common cause.

But the sheer gains of such global odyssey are not to be restricted to just one outing. For the rest of this year alone, there are yet a legion of upcoming events lined up for volunteers. Toronto, London, Paris, Dallas, Kigali, Nashville, Seattle and Abu Dhabi already have major events waiting in the wings for the months ahead, expecting passionate individuals like YOU to join the Global Volunteer Community.

Now that’s exactly like having one foot in the village this night and another in some glittering global Capital by the time the night is over.

Being seen today in the backstreets of Ikot Akpa Nkuk and the very next moment, strutting the fabled high streets of some of the world’s choicest capitals, life as an international volunteer opens the door to a world of infinite possibilities no matter your humble background. Not only do you get to explore new cultures, meet profoundly inspiring people, and create lifelong memories, but you also have the latitude to make a perceptible and discernable difference in the lives of others.

International volunteering provides a unique platform to learn, grow, and contribute to meaningful projects that address global challenges. It’s a chance to step out of your comfort zone, metamorphose beyond your horizons, and gain invaluable experiences that will shape you as an individual.

By becoming a volunteer, you become part of a global movement dedicated to making the world a better place. Whether you are 18 or 81 years old, you’ll join a community of like-minded individuals who share your passion for creating positive change and leaving an indelible impact.

And who says you can’t make some money too? In selected settings, your involvement is handled with utmost aplomb and there would even be locals and teammates waiting for you as you touch down at the airport. More often than not, you are given accommodation and entitled to meals, plus a sizeble allowance in hard currency.

This is a fervent and passionate call being extended to everyone here, so that together, we can create a ripple effect that aggregates far beyond our conjectures and transcending borders in the process.

Fast forward to another weekend and the hommies gather again to watch the current Premier league match. I show up and mingle, with not a few in the village audience being remotely aware that I had had to fly yet again, several hours  back home after another global volunteer trip to arrive just on time the night before, in order to avail them of my fraternal companionship and also enjoy their highly cherished conviviality in the village.

There it is. You should be primed to embark on this life-changing adventure. Nothing should stop you from joining many others all over the world to show humanity the true power of unity, love and progress through volunteerism.

Get up; Stand up (apologies to Robert Nesta Marley of blessed memory) and let’s make a difference; one event at a time!

PS: By the way, I’m writing from the Royal Golf Club, Kumasi, venue of the Lady Ossei Tutu Eve Classic Golf Tournament where the volunteers are aiming to build a Women’s Mental Health Centre here in the ancient capital city of the Ashanti Region in Southern Ghana. So if you had seen me in Uyo earlier in the morning yesterday, just remember that I probably flew off in the evening to be part of the Event Volunteer Team here this morning.

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One reply on “Living in Nigeria And Volunteering Globally”

  • Ima Abraham
    April 13, 2024 at 1:32 PM

    Congratulations SIr! This is wow! Sir, I’m interested. How can I be a part of this?