Every two weeks, our forest conservation volunteers make the relatively long walk to the top of Nosy Komba to spend a night in a church. The main objective is to do a solid night survey in the forest surrounding the area. However, a lot more gets accomplished.
Around this little Catholic Church is the micro village Antanamonpere (village of my father). There are only about 12 people who live in the few houses surrounding the church and their purpose is simple – to care for and maintain the church and the surrounding property that belongs to the priest.
This church has an interesting history that dates back to the mid-late 1800s. In fact, they were the first to bring the Ylang Ylang flower to Madagascar on Nosy Komba. Now this flower is widely used to make essential oils, a main export of the area. The priest resides in a lower village, Ampangorina, which is the biggest village on Nosy Komba. At roughly 80 years old, he still makes his way to his church weekly as the weather permits.
The foresters’ bi-weekly expedition provides a steady income to the church village. The Madagascar Research and Conservation Institute pays the locals to kindly provide dinner for the volunteers and for the use of the church in which they sleep. The village takes great pride in this task, providing a beautiful spread of local foods including coconut rice and papaya salad. It’s a real treat for those looking for an authentic experience.
It is important to our conservation efforts that all projects have good community relations and this is one way our volunteers accomplish just that. Interacting with the local community and sharing our conservation ideas and practices is the best way for us to ensure long term success. This church walk is one of many our projects where everyone is a winner.