Caitlin ended her exploring stint with us at Turtle Cove where she joined our community project as a volunteer for two months before returning home to Australia. She kindly wrote a piece for us about her time on Nosy Komba and the friendships she forged on and off camp. It was a pleasure having her here and we can’t wait to see her again.
“It’s been one week, one entire week since I left MRCI Madagascar. As I lay in my bed, in a well structured house, with a burning fire, a nice warm shower and mum’s home cooked dinner, I feel more than appreciative of what I am fortunate to have, yet I still have not lost my attachment to Madagascar and the beautiful people I have met.
Spending only eight weeks in paradise just wasn’t enough. You realise the value of life, you will forever cherish the memories and never stop dreaming of Nosy Komba, the beautiful little island off Madagascar. This adventure for me was life changing.
I spent eight weeks volunteer teaching in Madagascar, coming across this online and having an interest in education and volunteering, this was an easy must-do for me. This was a rare opportunity that I’m so glad I took. I was very lucky to share my time with such passionate staff and motivated volunteers, working with like-minded people, forming bonds and friendships like no other. To wake up every day with not only the beautiful scenery but also everyone’s smiling faces; I compare it to a family. You grow, learn and thrive off each other; hearing one another’s adventures, planning more and creating memories along the way. No matter who you are, where you are from, what language you speak…there is a place for you in Madagascar and for me I will be forever grateful to these wonderful people I now call friends.
As a young, naive 19 year old girl who has visions to travel the world, it is more than a blessing to have this opportunity of being a part of the community program. At night, myself and my fellow teachers would plan our classes for the next day and we would always have help by our outstanding coordinator and other volunteers too. We would talk about our days, our students and even learn a few things ourselves.
Our walks to class…definitely not a normal commute to work. Walking, trekking in the forest, climbing and scaling boulders. Sometimes it would take an hour’s walk but it was all worth it. As soon as you come close to a village all you can hear are hello’s, thank you’s, the kids calling out your names and singing songs you have taught them…a magical feeling.
We taught kids and adults. The kids eager for more…more learning, more yelling, more colouring, more play time, more songs and dances. Eager to enjoy their time that they have with us. These kids to me, became like family. Local Malagasy kids, sharing and giving the little food they have, always wanting you to join in a game of basketball or soccer, but my favourite was swim time. I had so much fun with these beautiful kids, I became so attached it never felt right saying goodbye. Not only to this day but every day, every single one of them, I will never forget. These kids all under the age of 15 really showed me the value of life, the value of love and how to embrace every situation.
The adults of Nosy Komba and Nosy Be, are very intelligent, it was so impressive. You were able to have a normal conversation with them, in English! Every lesson they participated in, they would grasp the concept so quickly and so well! Their understanding was mind blowing! Such intelligent people, if a few struggled, no one was left behind and they would all help until everyone could comprehend. They always wanted to learn more, even the little things, always wanted to know until the very last detail. So many laughs, so many deep and meaningful conversations about our lives back at home, their personal interest in us never grows old.
I had a tendency to grow strong connections with them, because they spoke such good English, I was able to spend a lot of time with them. I would spend most weekends and a lot of my spare time with them. They would invite me into their homes, I would help them cook and then enjoy a meal that was prepared in a way I had never seen before. They would show us the local places and where to go! Enjoying massive boxing and football matches during my time (both so different to our ways in the westernised world), partying and just having an everyday conversation with the magnificent people of Madagascar.
Simply, they invited us to be apart of their culture. So I embraced it.
This was the most precious gift given to me, I took a step out of my affluent, middle class life and took time to embrace their culture and without this, I don’t think you could fully enjoy Madagascar. Without knowing these people, it would have never changed who I am today. They taught me so many life lessons, so many things I don’t need to worry about, the essentials and values. The culture is the one thing I will always treasure and I owe it to the wonderful people I met along the way.