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I came to the Explore Programme having just finished a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Modern History, including a yearlong project on efforts to protect animals in the late nineteenth century. For me, the Explore programme offered an opportunity to experience what it’s like to work with WWF and to further understand difficulties faced in conservation, as well as to go to a developing country for the first time.
What I've learned:
In this instance, working with WWF was something like ecological missionary work. Occasionally local people were offended by the international effort to save Madagascar’s forests and not the people live in poverty around them. More often however, I found that people’s attitudes towards conservation resembled an attitude predominant in my country: interested, but wanting an incentive to take action. Whilst in Madagascar, I was at times the incentive, my host family for example, used an “improved stove” when cooking because they knew I would appreciate it.
As one of the world’s poorest countries, yet a producer of things we consume daily, such as rice, vanilla (ice cream, perfumes, cosmetics, cakes), and coffee, not to mention precious stones like Sapphire, spending time in Madagascar convinced me unequivocally that fair trade should be mandatory, anything else is exploitation.
The white boy said to the gasy boy “What is your nose for?”
The gasy boy replied, “to breathe. Why… What’s yours for?”
The white boy replied, “to hold my sunglasses up”
People will find you curious, children will be delighted and terrified by you, be open and appreciative of everything Madagascar will offer you, and enjoy!
In memory of...
... the boy who died in Ambodivohitra on October 15, 2007: He was hit by one of the only tractors in his village. The closest doctor is still a six kilometre walk from his village.