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My name is Seraphine, I am 27 years old and I recently finished my Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Chicago. Coming to Madagascar was a childhood dream of mine and the WWF has helped me to make it into something beyond my dreams, into an amazing and more meaningful experience.
So here I was living my dream after traveling 5,432 miles (Paris-Antananarivo) by plane and 2 days by car, including 5 hours on a very bumpy mud road, to arrive in Ivohibe. Ivohibe lies at the border of two ecosystems, the midaltitude altitude rainforest and savanna grass land, and many of the surrounding communities are on the boundary of Andringitra National Park and Ivohibe Peak Special Reserve along the forest corridor on the east coast of Madagascar. To reach these small communities working with the WWF, I had to travel beyond where a plane or car could take me. I entered a world isolated and forgotten by most, accessible only by walking for many hours over hills and crossing streams.
Here, I found the most amazing place, a small village named Ihorononda. You might have a hard time finding it on a map, but this is a piece of paradise on the edge of a unique ecosystem with many endemic species. If you rise early, you can see ring-tailed lemurs jumping from one rock to the next, warming up in the rising sun. During the walk here, colorful grasshoppers, frogs and snakes will cross your path and you will feel free like the birds flying above your head. Here I am where there is no electricity, but the sky is so clear that the stars brighten the night and there are so many shooting stars that I can make all the wishes I want. There is no tap water but a stream to drink, wash and play in. There is not the noise of cars but laughter of children during the day and the song of crickets and frogs at night. There are none of the comforts of modern life, but you find peace. The people are not bothered or rushed but the most welcoming, happy and generous people I have ever seen sharing their simple meal of rice with us. This is the type of place I imagined when reading fairytales as a child, and here it is just in front of me.
I don’t remember why I started dreaming about Madagascar as a child but the reasons of a child might just be the best. My childhood dream of coming to Madagascar finally came true and the reality was even more amazing than my dream, but now I realize this is just a beginning. I saw a place as described in fairytales, and I don’t want that place or others like it to disappear. This experience gave me a new direction, and time will show where it will take me.
"This experience gave me a new direction, and time will show where it will take me. "
Feel free to contact me if you want to find out more!
This movie is a fairytale about the turtle Tsako searching for the mysterious place Taloha. The idea to make a fairytale about my experience as a volunteer was inspired by working with children in the communities. The wooden turtle in the movie, Tsako, was my birthday present from the WWF agents. I celebrated my birthday in Ivohibe, and it was my best birthday ever! “Tsako Taloha” means “it is not like before”, a phrase I learned while watching the World Cup at the local bar. I hope that the efforts of the WWF in the area make a positive and permanent impact on the future, just as Tsako does in this fairytale.