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Volunteer English Teaching Experience

Experience English Teaching in Madagascar

Author: Michaela Ondríková, Teaching Volunteer

Volunteer English Teaching Experience

Experience of a Lifetime

The time I spent in Madagascar were 3 incredible weeks. Why? Shortly, changing a perspective by going out of a bubble, allows you see the things, you didn’t see before. Not just like a phrase. Living the local life is totally different than to be closed in one of big hotel resorts. And watching children playing on the beach from small boat differs from the feeling when you know each other’s names.

I mean for me the highlight of the “island life” was the moment when I came to the village and children were shouting my name.  I spent few weeks in small island, Nosy Komba, in the north of Madagascar. Changing life experience? My life is the same but with a different point of view. There are many things that influence you when you are in so unknown part of the world. Going alone to this experience made me more open-minded. And of course, it’s pretty cool to know people from all over the world. It could be another chapter about people in the camp with their life stories and experiences.

My part of this story started one day, while sitting in my room, searching for an opportunity of volunteering abroad. I decided for Madagascar. Or probably it was the beating of my heart when I imagined myself in fairy tale of Madagascar, that decided for me. Ok, my thoughts are sometimes out of reality. But I like the moment when it becomes real. This time it was stunning! To find few free weeks wasn’t such a big deal, with my winter break of study, as the fact that I realized after booking my flight, that it’s rainy season there. Great, Mishka! Prepared for the cyclones, storms and rains, with bags full of waterproof everything and few shorts -in any case, I boarded the plane.

Volunteer English Teaching Experience

After landing in the middle of the new world, there was a good and a bad new. All my waterproof stuff, few really important things (as sleeping bag, some medicals etc.), and tones of donations were stuck on the other side of planet. Well done, life. Welcome to Madagascar. The good one was that the three weeks I spent there were sometimes in between of two big cyclones. So, the shorts and t-shirts were quite useful even if while packing them back in Slovakia, during -15 degrees, it felt little bit weird.

Teaching that children and people from community, was just experience I wish to everybody. An English class with 40 children, without bigger previous experience with teaching. Firstly, it scared me a bit. Than local English teachers showed me the villages, schools, introduced me and made it much better. With their willing to help me and show me everything needed, it became a pleasure. And lessons with children was time of “English games”.  Although planning lessons and walking to village and back was exhausting, the moment when I step to the room full of smiling children, expecting what are we going to do, made me forget the fact that I am all wet, pink (partly red), their activity and life, just didn’t let me passive. After all, what could a class of 40 children, not wild just a little bit noisy, not restless but active, give you? Of course, just positivity, energy and joy!

Volunteer English Teaching Experience

With the youngest it was funny, when I tried to draw them really simple and clear pictures. But my candies became fish and chocolate a mobile-phone. Never mind, at least I know what should I get better in.

Most of the volunteers came to Nosy Komba alone, as I did. However, I felt never lonely. Everyone there was so friendly. They just became your family for few weeks. The closest people you have in that time. Even if in few days you are thousand miles far away, friendships remain. And memories from together local trips, as well.

I could describe every day differently because it was so different. Even walking to nearest village for teaching changed according to the sea tides. In the beginning their life style “mora-mora” (slowly, slowly) was quite strange for me. However, later I realized that it’s actually important to share what time we do have with others.

Getting to know the culture and life just started and I had to already leave. Maybe it’s too cliché, but yes, I brought a bit of Madagascar back home with me. As memories for clear blue ocean, forest with all colors, joyful and helpful people, smiles of children, new friendships – Emotions I am not able to describe…

Now, I am really thankful for this “unknown journey”, that became more familiar than I could ever imagine.

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Volunteer English Teaching Experience



English Classes in Banana Village

Author: Emily Borth

English Classes - Banana Village MRCI 1

Building Friendships through English Classes

On the island of Nosy Komba, just a half-hour hike from the main village of Ampang sits Antitorona. A mix of wood and concrete buildings nestled right on the beach make up this picturesque village, with winding stone pathways leading up the mountain and into surrounding forest. Also known as ‘banana’ village, it is aptly nicknamed after the school there with its yellow uniforms and brightly painted buildings. The quiet beauty feels as if you’re inside a story book complete with a castle-like water tower near the tree-lined outer edge of the village. Working on MRCI’s teaching and construction programs, you get the chance to spend time in these small villages and get a glimpse into the lives of the people here.

Two artisans, wood sculptors named Cell and Ariss reside here on the Northeast side of Nosy Komba in this idyllic village. They have been friends for a couple of years now, bonded through their shared skillset. Ariss, the older of the two has two children he works hard to support. Originally from the neighboring island of Nosy Be, he serves as a de facto older brother figure for the younger Cell, born and raised here in Antitorona. They make a living mainly from the thriving tourism industry on Nosy Komba. On most pieces, they work together taking it in turns as they hone their craft. Each intricately carved work of art can take anywhere from half an hour to more than three hours depending on its size and complexity. They create beautiful carved wooden pieces and sell them in a few shops in the main village of Ampang.

We got to know them a few months ago when they began attending English classes in Antitorona held three times per week. MRCI teaches beginner and advanced English classes there for children, teens and adults. Thanks to donations from our generous volunteers, we stocked the classrooms with pens, notebooks and other school supplies and even provided a new whiteboard. Since many tourists to the area speak English, Cell and Ariss are hopeful that with a better grasp on the language, they can increase sales. They dream of one day expanding their business further and maybe even opening their own shop.

Just a few weeks ago, they created a beautiful wooden sign for MRCI’s newly built plant nursery, commissioned by volunteers on the forest program. In recognition of their hard work on the project, volunteers named the nursery after our Forest Officer, Menjah and former Forest Intern, Charles. The nursery will forever be known as Marles’s Nursery, denoted with a beautifully carved wooden sign (thanks to Ariss and Cell).

Ultimately, that’s what volunteering with MRCI is all about: becoming part of the community, living alongside the people here and learning from them. Conservation work helps ensure a healthy ecosystem for generations to come. No one understands that urgency better than those who live here and depend on what nature produces year after year. Together, with whole-hearted community support and cooperation, we progress.


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English Classes - Banana Village MRCI 2

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…