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Mamoudou – painting new classroom
BlogCommunity DevelopmentTeaching

Teacher Helps Community Development Volunteers Rebuild School

Author: Emily Borth
Teacher Helps Community Development Volunteers Rebuild SchoolEnglish Classes - Banana Village MRCI 2

Photo by Mark Thijssen

We are all Volunteers

Life in the village means living as part of a very inter-connected community. Everyone helps everyone; that is just part of life here. In the span of a few minutes, you can gather large groups of people to help pull boats out of the water when rough weather hits. Food is often shared. Childcare duties are shared. There is a general air of connectedness. It isn’t unusual for a passerby to ask to share your drinking water, whether they know you or not. People help one another when it’s needed. There never seems to be any shortage of people willing to help out whether it is carrying something heavy off a boat or helping a neighbor rebuild their house. When something needs doing, people just pitch in to get it done. It is one of the things I love about the place and the people here.

Mamoudou Tavandra Mohibo embodies this since of community. The 34-year-old grew up in Marodoka and now raises his 9-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter here. He keeps active within the community here and during his free time plays football on the local team. But for the last seven years, his main duties in the village come at the school. Mamoudou teachers primary school there at level three. For years now, he has watched the ebb and flow of EPP Ambanoro school district in Marodoka. He was there when the storm, cyclone Enawo destroyed a quarter of their school in March 2017.  The history of this village lives within his long-reaching memory and his love for the community is easy to see. He gentle kindness and giving nature have proven to be a powerful force in helping with the schools rebuild.

Teacher Helps Community Development Volunteers Rebuild SchoolEnglish Classes - Banana Village MRCI 2 copy 2

Photo by Mark Thijssen

Our construction team often brings a packed lunch since Marodoka is quite a distance from Turtle Cove, our base on Nosy Komba. Every morning, volunteers catch the 6:00am boat from Nosy Komba to the port in Hellville on the neighboring island of Nosy Be. They then catch a tuk tuk from Hellville to Marodoka. So, in order to make the most of their time there, they bring a packed lunch so they can work longer before returning to Komba. Often however, they do not bring plates. The glass plates are heavy and at high risk of breaking on the journey, so they just do without. Our forest team solves this problem by using large leaves as plates. But in the village, plate-sized leaves are not as easy to come by.

Mamoudou, seeing this predicament, didn’t hesitate to host the team at his house, just around the corner from the school. His children play outside as the volunteers settle in, his wife handing out plates to the group. This became a regular part of our routine as we rebuilt the school; lunch at Mamoudou’s house. One of our construction volunteers, Mark Thijssen, got to experience this tradition during his time with us. Inspired by Mamoudou’s kindness and his experiences in the village, Mark wanted to give the school a gift before he left. He spent some time taking photos of students at play outside the school and printed them out. With help from the teachers, he hung posters filled with these photos in each of the school’s classrooms.

Teacher Helps Community Development Volunteers Rebuild SchoolEnglish Classes - Banana Village MRCI 2 copy

Photo by Mark Thijssen

Beyond being a source of inspiration to our volunteers and providing plates and a place for lunch, Mamoudou’s support yields something even more tangible. He spends much of his free time at the schoolhelping with the actual construction process. He has been involved in work from the very beginning and just this week helped put the final coat of paint and finishing touches on the classroom. He stands viewing the almost finished classroom, a look of pure contentment on his face while the children play, running in circles around the building. This is what community means.

Check out our Community Development Program!


About Us



  • Our current project is the construction of a School in village of Ampoagna
  • Renovated a day care center for intellectually disabled children on Nosy Be (March 2023)
  • In collaboration with Tim Kohlbecher and the Leo Club Charity, we constructed a fresh water well in the village of  Ampoagna (2019)
  • In June of 2018, MRCI started with the Ampoagna Clinic construction project which was then completed in November of 2018. A traditional opening ceremony was held by the local community which was attended by governmental delegates and broadcasted over national television.
  • MRCI will build toilets in Ampadinombe and in turn will receive 20 thousand squared meters of forest to rehabilitate (August 2017). Read more…
  • With thanks to a donation of over $2000 from ex-volunteer Chandler Renz, renovation work was carried out at the Church school in Ampang – the classrooms were re-floored and painted and a double toilet block was built.
  • Renovation work at Ampang Premiere school has been completed – the school building was painted inside and out and a fence was built around the school’s flagpole (April 2017)
  • A school was built in Andrekarekabe (January to March 2017).
  • A dam was built to supply running water to Andrekarekahely and Andrekarekabe (December 2016).
  • The basketball hoops in Ampangorina were repaired and the court was repainted.  A tournament was then organised and took place to celebrate the revamped court. (December 2016).  Read more…
  • The school roof in Ampangorina was repaired and tables and chairs were painted (December 2016).
  • A bridge was built to improve access to the village of Ampangorina during the wet season (November 2016).  Read more…
  • Madagascar Research and Conservation Institute has built five toilet/shower blocks (each block has 2 toilets and one shower) in total – 2 in Andrekarekabe (completed September and December 2016) and 3 in Andrekarekahely (June, August, and September 2016).  Read more here and here
  • Porches were fixed in a local shop in Andrekarekabe (October 2016).
  • Playgrounds, including swing sets, were built in Ampangorina and Andrekarekabe (August 2015 and February 2016).
  • The primary school in Ampangorina was painted inside and out (January 2016)
  • Just under $10,000 dollars was raised for community development projects through fundraisers, GoFundMe and personally – ongoing
  • School desks were renovated at Andrekarekahely Primary School (January 2016)


  • Two cars were striped and dropped to form part of our newest artifical reef, The Parking Lot. Read More…
  • A new artificial reef, consisting of a series of transplanted soft and hard corals implanted on boulder-like dome structures has been built, on the sand parallel to the reef, and in stacks close to the reef, creating ‘an orchard’ of growing new coral. The corals were obtained with the assistance of friends of our partner organisation, CNRO and Nosy be Aquaculture. In March the first set of corals were put in with a ceremony of approval of the Fisheries Minister of Madagascar and 100 of his close friends.
  • Beach cleans regularly take place during spring tides and all divers are encouraged to pick up litter during their surveys.
    A second artificial reef, known as ‘Mad-hatter’ was installed in January 2017. Survey have since begun on both artificial reefs.
  • The house reef in front of Turtle cove and two neighbouring beaches were protected and became a no fishing or anchoring zone (November 2016).  Read more here and here
  • 7 structures were installed in an artificial reef (2014).  Read more here and here
  • Staff and volunteers went on a trip to Mitsio Islands with CNRO (Centre Nationale Research Oceanographic) (2014) for a governmental biodiversity survey in a case against oil drilling in North Madagascar. The trip was a success and resulted in a report on marine biodiversity in the area being given to the government.  As of yet, no drilling has happened in that area.


  • Started our Bamboo Straw Initiative where our volunteers harvest, cut and sterilize bamboo shoots. These straws are then offered to local restaurants and establishments with the hopes of eradicating the island of single-use plastic straws. Read More…
  • In a ground breaking development MRCI concludes an agreement with the village of Ampasinomby to establish a first of its kind agroforest on Nosy Komba (August 2017). Read more…
  • In June 2017, the forest programme began their initial phase of Lepidoptera surveys. Several capture-and-release systems, each comprised of four baited traps, have been set up across different habitat types on Nosy Komba.
  • Madagascar Research and Conservation Institute hosted an international researcher studying parasitic wasps and discovered new species here that had never been known before (June 2015).  Read more…
  • Over the last 3 years, we have also discovered 20 new species of birds, reptiles and amphibians on the island that weren’t known to be here before.


  • Successfully rebuilt Maradouko school which was devasted by cyclone Enawo and held a celebratory reopening that was attended by a number of community leaders and officials (March-May 2018) Read More about the build Here and the reopening day Here.
  • The beginners class in Ampang now has 18 regular students, with new students joining each week. The class is going from strength to strength and students making real progress in their learning.
  • With thanks to volunteer Taylor Schellenberg, $700 was raised to provide schools on Nosy Komba and Nosy Be with sports equipment (January 2017).
  • In January 2017, a football tournament was organised with 3 teams from local villages and a team from the volunteer camp.
  • After requests from students, tests were developed for the Ampang beginners class and the teenagers class in Antitorana.  All students performed well.
  • Extra-curricular activities have taken place to enable volunteers to interact with their students outside of the classroom.  These “community picnics” have been a great success.
  • Two Malagasy Sakalav to English dictionaries have been produced.
  • 8 adult’s classes and 11 children’s classes have been set up to teach English on Nosy Komba and Nosy Be – ongoing.
  • Monthly environment days are held to educate local communities on relevant environmental issues.
  • Many students are taught English, leading to many employment opportunities in tourism.

 Future Goals

  • Expand the reef surveys to include more transects at different reef sites around Nosy Komba.
  • Assess the population of potentially damaging species within the MPA, such as Diodema sp. urchins.
  • Publish scientific papers on the establishment of the orchard and turtle population within our MPA.
  • Establish a women’s class in Ampangorina.
  • Refurbishment work at Maradouka school.
  • Replant the area of the forest destroyed in the fire in October 2016.
  • Organise more community sports tournaments.
  • Build a path around camp to improve access for locals during the wet season.
  • Build a school in the nearby village of Andrekarekabe where we will then provide English classes for the village.
  • Provide fresh water to the village of Ampasanombe, this will require putting in a system of water pipes and taps.
  • Work with reforestation charities to try and mitigate the effects of felling and land clearing on Nosy Komba in an ecologically sensitive way.
  • Raise community awareness on the importance of reducing plastic usage and keeping plastic litter out of our seas to protect the reef.
  • Publish a long-term monitoring report on the effectiveness of the new MPA.

Read more about our various achievements in Madagascar here…

Madagascar Volunteer - Building Bridges to Support the Community

Building Bridges to Support the Community

Madagascar Volunteer - Building Bridges to Support the Community

Madagascar has some serious wet seasons! It’s known for flooding roads that make areas impassable for days. That’s island life and members of the local community on Nosy Komba van share many stories of how it effects their lives.

While Nosy Komba doesn’t have roads, there are many paths around the island that the Malagasy villagers use regularly. Some of these pathways become hazardous during the wet season, to the extent that it keeps people at home and sometimes prevents children from going to school.




Madagascar Volunteer - Building Bridges to Support the Community

One of the worst passages lies right next to the Madagascar Research and Conservation Institute’s (MRCI) base camp and it connects the villages on one side of camp to the main village of Ampangorina. The water runoff from the rain makes this area completely untraversable. To benefit the community, MRCI staff and volunteers took on the challenge of building a bridge over the water way.





Madagascar Volunteer - Building Bridges to Support the Community


Madagascar Volunteer - Building Bridges to Support the Community

The MRCI construction volunteers lead by construction officer, Luke Middleton, designed the bridge and MRCI funded all of the materials. To help the community further, funds were allocated to hire workers from the local community to help with the project.  Using builders from within the community ensured that we had the necessary knowledge to build environmentally appropriate structures.





Madagascar Volunteer - Building Bridges to Support the Community

Once organized, the project took about three weeks to complete. Now the villagers can safely make their way to work and children can easily get to school when conditions aren’t favourable. This is one of many examples of how we try to improve the Nosy Komba community, ensuring that our presence on the island also brings value to it.




If you would like to find out more about our construction projects on Nosy Komba, contact us today or apply online to take part in one of our volunteer programs.