We are constantly amazed at the passion and dedication of our volunteers to the community they work with in Madagascar. A former volunteer, Taylor, shares her experiences:
“I arrived at the Madagascar Research and Conservation Institute (MRCI) basecamp on Nosy Komba, Madagascar December 6, 2016. At this point I had no clue what was in store for me and did not anticipate falling in love with a culture and its people the way I did. Coming into camp as an English teacher, I learned that I was also placed under a broader category of volunteers titled “Community,” and was soon challenged to create a community-based project. Although it took some time to come up with an attainable project, I finally proposed the idea of raising money to purchase sporting equipment for local schools. A few particular events sparked this idea.
Not long after I arrived, the community team, myself included, donated money to purchase supplies to fix up a local village’s basketball court. Since the court has been fixed, games have brought the community together on a daily basis. This particular event resonated with me as I grew up playing various sports where local teams thrived off of community involvement and spirit. In addition, it made me realize how easily things such as gymnasiums, organized practices, coaches, and equipment availability can be taken for granted. I knew I wanted work on a project that would benefit a community and I had to tie it to something that locals were passionate about. It then dawned on me; we were able to bring the community of Ampangorina together by simply aiding the people with needed supplies, which in turn allowed them to come together through sport. After talking with the community coordinator and ranting about my hometowns community spirit, I knew I needed to ask for help.
I was raised in Drumheller, Alberta, a small town in Western Canada. Growing up here, it was quickly learned what it meant to be a part of a small community. This community has come together on various occasions when either a family or an organization was in need of support. Having been given the opportunity to play and be a part of multiple school teams growing up, I was able to establish interpersonal relationships not only with team members, but also with coaches and teachers. Knowing how my community has come together in the past to help those in need, I knew I could reach back to my roots for support.
I soon contacted the principal of the high school I attended, Drumheller Valley Secondary School (DVSS), and proposed my goal and challenge to the schools current students. I wanted to challenge students of DVSS to each donate just one loonie ($1.00CAD) in hopes to raise enough money to purchase just one sports ball per school on the island of Nosy Komba. We set the initial goal at $350.00CAD. The principal, Mr. LaPierre, agreed that this would be a great learning experience and opportunity for students to help fellow students. The plan was then quickly put into action. Mr. LaPierre challenged all students to bring in $1.00CAD where he would then reward the class who raised the most money with a pizza party.
It was clear that the students were more than ambitious to help out their peers on the other side of the world. In two days’ time, the students and staff of DVSS raised $695.00 CAD. I was ecstatic when I was notified that our initial goal was essentially doubled. This enabled myself, with the help of staff and fellow volunteers to venture out and purchase the sporting equipment!
With the money raised, we were able to purchase a total of 28 soccer balls, 14 regular basketballs, 4 small basketballs, 15 small rubber balls and 5 pumps. In addition, we were able put money towards a boat and skippers in order to easily transport and deliver the sporting equipment. Balls were delivered to all schools and villages on Nosy Komba as well as schools on Nosy Be.
Delivering the equipment was a heartfelt and gratifying experience. I was truly moved by just how grateful and happy students, teachers and villagers were by something as simple as one or two sport balls. I also cannot express how amazed I am by everyone that came together to accomplish the proposed fundraiser. The students of DVSS proved yet again just what the town of Drumheller is able to accomplish when they come together. The students of DVSS invested their own money in order to allow students in Madagascar the opportunity to come together as a community through sport. One person can feel small alright, especially when you venture into the wide open world. However, this project has shown that if each one of us do a little bit, bigger things can happen. This idea was made a reality thanks to the students and staff of DVSS along with the staff of MRCI and the community of Nosy Komba”.