92 Bowery St., NY 10013

+1 800 123 456 789

Tag: volunteers

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!


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.

Forest Conservation Volunteers work with a little Church Village
BlogForest Conservation

Forest Conservation Volunteers Sleep in a Little Church

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.

Forest Conservation Volunteers work with a little Church Village

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 Forest Conservation Volunteers work with a little Church Villagepriest 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 Forest Conservation Volunteers work with a little Church Villagelocal 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.

If you would like to join our forest conservation program and make a difference to communities in Madagascar, contact us today or complete our online application form.

Madagascar Volunteers - volunteers play basketball
AchievementsBlogCommunity DevelopmentIsland Life

Volunteers Bring Communities Together With Basketball

Madagascar Volunteers - volunteers play basketballMadagascar Research and Conservation Institute’s Community Co-ordinators, Niamh Flynn and Rojo Andofinoana Razafisalama, came together with volunteers and villagers to rehabilitate the old basketball courts in Ampangarina, Nosy Komba. The team reached out to several groups to raise funds, reconstructed the goal posts and court, and held a community tournament all within 3 short weeks. This was an impressive feat that couldn’t have been accomplished without the help of Marsellin and other members of the Nosy Komba community.

Madagascar Volunteers - volunteers play basketballNiamh and Rojo reached out to Noelle Couper at Warriors Basketball Club in Dublin, Ireland requesting support for this project. The club responded generously, being the main contributor to the near $500 raised for the project. With these funds, new goal posts could be constructed with new hoops and nets, and the courts were cleaned and repainted. Once the funds came through, the community and volunteers came together and completed the work in mere 10 days!

Madagascar Volunteers - volunteers play basketballVolunteers wanted to mark the opening of the courts by holding a tournament and the response from the community was overwhelming. Four teams were formed; BB Aliomo, BB Chicago, AS Jetno, and of course the volunteers’ team – Camp. The dedicated teams practiced continuously and were in tiptop shape for the big day. To ensure a fair match, a referee from Nosy Be was brought in to oversee the tournament. People from all over Nosy Komba came to support their teams which resulted in a fun and festive day all around! In round one BB Aliomo beat out BB Chicago and AS Jetno beat out Camp. BB Aliomo won the tournament over AS Jetno in the shootout. The day was shrouded in fun and excitement for sure!

Madagascar Volunteers - volunteers play basketballSince the reconstruction of the basketball courts and the tournament, people have been seen enjoying them every day. Villagers young and old, boys and girls can be found shooting hoops and having a great time all day and even into the night with the moonlight! It has truly brought so much joy and togetherness to the villagers of Ampangorina and Nosy Komba. Thank you to all who contributed physically and financially, your contributions will be lasting in the hearts of those who get so much enjoyment with these new courts.

To find out more about how to join our volunteers in Madagascar, contact us today or complete our online application form.

Madagascar Volunteer: Volunteers in Ankarana Forest Reserve
BlogForest ConservationTeaching

Volunteers Journey to an Exotic World

As part of both our Forest Conservation and Teaching English volunteer programs, volunteers enjoy a five day adventure tour through the Ankarana Forest Reserve.  Natalia shares her experience with us…

“My friend, you are late, the boat leaves”.

Madagascar Volunteer: Volunteers in Ankarana Forest ReserveOur party of four volunteers made its way through the busy port of Hell-Ville.  The port provides transport back to Ankify (the closest mainland port) and other islands in the area.  Needless to say there were many boats moored at the harbour.  Serjay, a local I had met the day before, had booked us a speedboat to Ankify and taxi-brusse to Ankarana.  We were led smoothly through customs and loaded onto a speedboat with a name that translates to “fast like the wind”.  Our driver seemed particularly excited about the name.  After a quick glance to check where the life jackets were located, we were off.  “Wind maker” seemed a more appropriate name.

Arriving in Ankify, a large sign over the entrance to the port confirmed that we had arrived at the correct destination and the port seemed to be exploding with people.  Our next objective was to find the taxi-brusse.  Asking around for Jimmy’s Transport, a larger, obviously respected man signalled for us to stand to one side.  Before long somebody else arrived and explained that he would take us through town to buy a banana and water for the trip before taking us to the taxi-brusse.

With luggage piled high and roped down to the roof, the four of us board climb aboard.  Being tall, I am ushered into the front seat.  This is a blessing as Joe and Hetty are cramped in the third row with six other people…and it’s only a three seat row.

The three hour journey to Ankarana was an exhilarating game of “dodge the pothole, Zebu and continuous stream of locals using the road”.  It’s busy but not with cars.

It was incredibly refreshing to be on this journey after leaving city life behind a month ago.  Traveling at a typical speed of about 60kmh never felt so good.

We arrived at the Ankarana Forest Reserve at 2:00 pm where we met our friendly local guide, Joaqim.  By then, the team were more than ready for lunch and eager to explore the park.  I could already tell this was going to be a good trip.  On the walk to our lodge we saw many exotic fruit trees.  Joe eagerly climbed every tree and to try all the fruit, as our guide patiently explained what was ripe and edible. Over the next few days we tasted a number of different fruit, Joe climbed several trees and we all came away with a new favourite fruit, possibly not to be found anywhere else in the world.

Madagascar Volunteer: Volunteers in Ankarana Forest ReserveAs the park is open only during daylight hours, we did a night walk along a path outside the park on the first night.  The wildlife in the forest is exotic and plentiful.  The whole team excitedly joined in identifying forest animals by recognizing the reflected eye colour when holding torch at head level.  A red reflection is that of a mouse lemur.  These are incredibly cute lemurs the size of kittens that timidly move from branch to branch eating insects, fruit, flowers and leaves.  They are rarely seen during the day, but we saw several of them that night, along with many geckos and chameleons.

Madagascar Volunteer: Volunteers in Ankarana Forest ReserveThe next morning saw everyone well-rested and still excited from the success of the night before.  We then headed off into the Forest Reserve, each taking six litres of water with us.  The park is quite flat but we travelled slowly to enjoy both the stories our guide shared with us and to spot the flora and fauna.

The Ankarana Forest reserve is situated on a small partially vegetated plateau of 150 million year old limestone which slopes gently to the east but ends abruptly at the west at the “Wall of Ankarana” (a sheer cliff that extends for 25 kilometres.  Erosion and seismic activity have created a rugged Madagascar Volunteer: Volunteers in Ankarana Forest Reservealien landscape where the forest is fenced off by large canyons of sharp Tsingys (karstic plateaus in which groundwater has undercut the elevated uplands and gouged caverns and fissures into the limestone). The word Tsingy roughly translates to “walk on your tip toes”.  I certainly would not like to travel far across these rocks without shoes.

While seeing such an abundance of wildlife as well as the striking Tsingy was amazing, the highlight of our day was to experience one of the Ankarana caves.  Earlier in the day we spotted a huge sinkhole on a dry riverbed into which two rivers disappeared.  Then we went to see a section of the underground riverbed.  A biologist friend once said to me, “Nature is great at sorting things. All the water is in the ocean all the trees are in the forest”.  Here, nature was no less organized – all the snail shells were neatly piled in a small sand bed in one corner.

Madagascar Volunteer: Volunteers in Ankarana Forest ReserveReturning to camp we were all tired from an exceptional day.  After a large meal of fish, fresh vegetables and flaming caramel banana desert, the team asked for a night photography lesson.  The stars were out and by the end of the lesson, all had captured at least one pleasing image of the Milky Way and a little more understanding of the amazing journeys a camera can take you on.

Madagascar Volunteer: Volunteers in Ankarana Forest ReserveOur final day in the park was another day to treasure.  We woke early to climb the highest hill in the area for a terrific view of the Tsingy wall and surrounding Baobabs and forest.  Our breakfast arrived a little late as the truck from Diego that delivers food was running late (another sign that you’re in Madagascar) as Diego is 2 hours’ drive away.

Madagascar Volunteer: Volunteers in Ankarana Forest ReserveOur second stop after having a picnic below lemurs flying through the air above our heads, was the bat cave.  This jaw-dropping cave has one of the largest cave entrances I have ever seen and is home to two species of bats.  We also witnessed a snake catching and eating a rat (good to know the pest control is working).

Madagascar Volunteer: Volunteers in Ankarana Forest ReserveAs our final hours in camp drew nearer, the team opted to do another night walk.  At 6 pm we returned and were greeted by close up encounters with crowned lemurs and leaf-tailed geckos.

The next morning, we awoke at 4 am to catch the taxi-brusse back to our base camp.  The staff at the lodge awoke early too to see us off.  Although we were saying goodbye to the forest, as we boarded we knew the adventure wasn’t over until we reached camp.  Within an hour I had my first exotic visitor!  The van stopped by the roadside and a live duck was passed through the window and purchased by my neighbour.  We travelled the rest of the way with the duck peacefully asleep in the second row.

To find out how you can join our volunteers on their adventures, contact us today or complete our online application form and join us in Madagascar!