This summer I was fortunate enough to receive funding to travel to Nosy Be and Nosy Komba in with an organisation called IVHQ. Madagascar has become increasingly popular with tourists over the last few years, and there is a growing demand to learn English. However, opportunities to learn the language from native speakers are scarce. During my time traveling between the islands, I taught several of the local staff on camp English to help them communicate better with the other volunteers. This was more difficult than I had imagined it would be, as they were older people and had never attended school – While the children in the village learned to speak French, these adults had no language other than Malagasy and the majority of them could not read or write.
We very quickly overcame the language barrier and the locals were more than happy to immerse the volunteers fully in to the culture of Madagascar, starting with an annual music festival called Donia, with traditional African music and food.
As well as teaching English, IVHQ also offers a number of other programmes, such as forest and marine conservation. Once a month the on-site organisation, Madagascar Research and Conservation Institute (MRCI) arrange an Environmental Education Day with the local village of Ampangarina, Nosy Komba. This gave me an opportunity to interact with many of the local children who loved teaching me the games they play and their favourite Malagasy songs, although they seemed most content to have their pictures taken.
Overall, my trip to Madagascar really was once in a lifetime and I know that when I return in a few years from now, everything will have changed. As a brand new programme I feel blessed to have been able to experience the creation of the volunteer camp and I can’t wait to go back to make even more lifelong friendships.