Janine Blinko - Conservation & Environment, Rainforest Conservation in Madagascar
I am self-employed and at the latter end of my career, and I was looking for an adventure. So, with a couple of friends of similar age and disposition, I headed for Andasibe.
Arrival in Madagascar
Our adventure started as soon as we arrived, which was in the middle of the rainy season, and shortly after a cyclone had been through the area and caused huge floods. Our driver was just brilliant, negotiating the water and potholes to deliver us from Antanarivo Airport to our hotel in Andasibe.
My volunteer accommodation
The hotel is family-run, basic, but comfortable, and they did a splendid job of making sure we were well looked after and well-fed. We are vegetarian, which was, from our hosts’ point of view, counter-intuitive. Meat is expensive and is expected to be the focus of every main course. However, the vegetarian meals they provided for us were delicious, possibly the best that we have had anywhere, so we highly recommend them. Vegetables, beans and lentils are plentiful, so it was perfect for us!
My first impressions
Our Projects Abroad coordinator, Fidi, is an amazing man. He planned a great programme for us for our two-week stay. We started with an orientation day, with a tour of the village and the rainforest, where we would be working for the rest of our stay. There is one brick road in the village, the rest was very muddy from all the rain. There were teams of people from the community around the village working together to clear up the debris left behind now that the floodwater from the cyclone had receded.
My Rainforest Conservation placement
Fidi manages several initiatives in the forest and in the village. We were lucky enough to be part of several of them. The reforestation programme involves collecting small saplings from native trees and planting them in pots in the nursery. Fidi and his colleagues then look after them until they are strong enough to be planted back in the forest.
Many parts of the forest have been taken over by alien trees, which do not provide good food for the lemurs. So, to keep a healthy population of healthy lemurs, the forest is being returned to a habitat which sustains them. It was great to be a small part of that.
In the time we were there (two weeks), we also laid 23 metres of a planned 15 km path through the forest. We are very proud of these 23 metres! The finished path will enable visitors to walk through the forest and enjoy this brilliant environment, keeping them safe, and keeping the habitat safe.
We also went on day and night walks through the forest as part of ongoing monitoring of the environment and the wonderful animals in it. All the work in the rainforest was awe-inspiring and at all times, was accompanied by the sounds of the diverse range of animals there. A particular joy was the haunting sound of the indris calling to each other, or maybe to us!
Fidi also manages the community days in Andasibe. These were fantastic events, with members of the village, Project Abroad volunteers, and staff coming together to support each other. The events we were part of were painting the village hall, which took very little time considering it is a large building, and helping one of the local residents by mending her house.
Other activities organised by Projects Abroad
As my fellow adventurers and I come from a background in education, we also had the pleasure of being able to visit two schools and the Projects Abroad care centre.
The schools function under very challenging conditions, with few resources, including insufficient books to read or to write in, and insufficient pencils to write with. The children are so keen to learn that many of them walk miles every day to get to school.
As well as work, Projects Abroad organised cultural evenings and Malagasy lessons for us. I’m not sure that we were particularly good at the weaving, dancing, or speaking Malagasy, but we enjoyed every minute of it. Everyone we came across was very friendly, helpful and a treat to be around. We highly recommend this trip!
Dit verhaal is een persoonlijke ervaring van een vrijwilliger op dit project en dus een momentopname. Houd er rekening mee dat jouw ervaring hiervan af kan wijken. Onze projecten veranderen constant, omdat we inspelen op de lokale behoefte en we voortborduren op de behaalde resultaten. Ook verschillende weersomstandigheden kunnen de ervaring beïnvloeden. Lees meer over wat je kunt verwachten van dit project of neem contact met ons op voor meer informatie.