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Work alongside impoverished communities and be involved in educational activities, construction work, sustainable livelihood projects, and conservation research; from activities such as building wells and schools, to teaching English and planting trees - live, work and travel amongst some of the most beautiful and remote parts of Madagascar!
Running for over 10 years, this project involves working on a variety of sustainable development projects, while gaining first-hand experience of the resource needs of impoverished communities and how these impact on conservation efforts. Based around Fort Dauphin in southeast Madagascar, you will be living and working in some of the most beautiful and remote parts of the island and camping within rural, isolated communities.
This program gives you the unique opportunity to gain an understanding of development projects working on the ground in some of the poorest communities in the world, whilst working alongside Malagasy experts and local people on a variety of tasks. Working with an award winning development and conservation charity, the specific projects you will work on are diverse and will vary according to the present needs of specific communities. Rest assured whatever you are working on will be invaluable to the local people and there is something for everyone on this project!
Activities you may be involved in could include a number of the following on-going project areas which the charity currently works on:
Sustainable Livelihoods Projects:
School building: Volunteers are helping this NGO address the high demand for schools in the rural areas of the southeast. The majority of Madagascar’s population live in isolated rural communities and have little or no access to even basic levels of formal education, often children are forced to walk up to 20km per day to attend schools in other communities. Volunteers help in all aspects from building the actual school to supplying books and constructing furniture.
Improved food security: Basic lack of food is an ongoing issue which claims many lives in Madagascar. In this component volunteers assist in developing demonstration and training sites both in town, and in idyllic but very poor rural villages. Volunteers will work on improved planting and harvesting techniques with improved crop varieties, and help develop project sites into thriving examples for the local community. A lot of emphasis is placed on implanting these project concepts into rural schools, working alongside teachers, parents and students to create school gardens, tree nurseries and teach other practical skills that are vital for the sustainable future of rural youth.
Health and Sanitation Work:
Health Education: Through songs, role play and demonstrations, volunteers work with the project’s Health and Sanitation team to inform children about the benefits of hand washing, teeth brushing and using latrines. These activities can be great fun and a chance for those who like to show off to really shine!
Construction of Latrines: This will typically be for a local school and links well with health education lessons provided for school children by the Project.
Again volunteers will be involved in all aspects of the construction process guided by the experienced Project construction team, including foundation laying, mixing cement, brick laying & brick making, and painting.
Well construction: Clean water is of course vital to human life and a necessity to prevent the spread of diseases such as cholera that are present in Madagascar. The project is assisting the government of Madagascar to reach the goal of clean water for 80% of rural people by 2015. Volunteers will work with the experienced Project construction team to build new wells requested by villagers and repair or improve existing ones. As a volunteer you may dig the well, mix the cement, construct the iron foundations or even decorate the base! In this work, volunteers are helping the charity work towards the Millennium Development Goal regarding health and sanitation, seeking to halve the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water by 2015.
Setting up Tree Nurseries and Tree Planting: Volunteers help set up tree nurseries to aid the charity’s reforestation of 80 hectares of barren land, a problem caused by ‘tavy’ (slash-and-burn agriculture). Also, depending on the time of year, volunteers also work on planting the trees themselves. This is crucial work in helping to tackle Madagascar’s deforestation problem in a sustainable manner.
Environmental Education: Environmental education in its many forms is a key prerequisite for conservation. This aspect could involve the building of a forest information centre, the preparation and presentation of posters, or working with local children to raise awareness of the need for conservation. Volunteers’ enthusiasm and creativity is essential to aid the communication of environmental issues with local communities, especially with children.
Build Fuel Efficient Stoves: The charity’s design of fuel-efficient stove reduces the pressure on the forest as well as improving the health of local people and reducing the time spent collecting firewood. The stoves require 60% less firewood, lessen cooking times and reduce eye and lung problems through the reduction in smoke. Volunteers may be involved in both the hands-on construction of these stoves and/or the promotion of them in rural communities.
This project is open to all and is suitable for students, people on gap years, career breaks or retirees. It is also offered as an internship for those wishing to gain experience and/or credit for a college or university course. The work and lifestyle can be challenging but is incomparably rewarding. Be prepared for adventurous road journeys, physical work and long walks to reach remote and beautiful project sites. The programme gives you the opportunity to be much more than a tourist, whilst being in a fascinating part of the world.
The local language:
The working language our volunteers use is English however rural communities speak very little English at all and, even in urban areas, few can speak English well. Therefore, in order to facilitate volunteers’ immersion in Malagasy culture, and to enable you to communicate with local people you will be offered daily language classes in Malagasy. How much effort you put in to learning the language is up to you – the more you try, the more you will enjoy your time in Madagascar. As a minimum we expect volunteers to be able to learn the basic greetings so you can be polite. A simple “salama” (hello) or “misaotra” (thank you) will go a long way to help you earn respect in local communities.
This project is also offered as an internship for those wishing to gain experience and/or credit for a college or university course. The major difference between an intern and a volunteer relates to the amount of mentorship and self-evaluation. We feel that there are several factors that are necessary in order to run a successful internship program:
1. Active participation
2. Full involvement in the organisation’s projects
3. Weekly feedback and discussion with Program Supervisor and NGO Director evaluation at the end of the program
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* links to our partner's web site