After finishing my masters and getting all the vaccinations you can possibly think of, I finally left for Madagascar at the end of May. My task was to work with a youth environmental club - called Vintsy - founded by WWF in Vondrozo, a village in the south-east of the island. After spending a week in the capital, learning Anteshaka, one of the dialects spoken in the south-east, Karine, another explore volunteer from Switzerland, and myself left Antananarivo on a big WWF truck, charged with everything we would need during our stay in the south, including mountain bikes, mattresses and a 100 liter water tank.
My experience in Vondorzo
After taking part in the celebrations for the Malagasy Independence Day, which occupied most of June, at the beginning of July we had our first “big” event. We left Vondrozo with thirty kids on an old truck and went cleaning up a WWF reforestation site in a village nearby. We spent the night at an empty school dancing and singing, and we all had a great time. We came back the day after with forty-five kids, as many had joined us later on their own.
After that trip, Karine and I became the heroes of the school. More importantly, we won the unlimited support of a core group of enthusiastic members of the Vintsy Club that were ready to wake up at 5 am on a Saturday morning to go pick up plants on the top of a hill, singing and jumping all the way while I couldn’t even carry my own backpack.
It was then easy to build with them a little botanic garden in the back of the school, to organise a puppet show for the village on the market day and to make together the official T-shirts of the Vintsy Club of Vondrozo.
It was a Super-intense, life-changing experience. We felt a strong support from the entire community, and the curiosity and energy of the children pushed us to do as much as possible. I spent the first four weeks counting the days because I wanted to leave, and the last six weeks wanting to stay there forever.
My advice to future volunteers
Giulia & Karine's video