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From the Land of Thousand Hillls to the Country of Thousand Lemurs

It is true Rwanda and Madagascar have much in common, but I thought .. I can learn a lot from there. I was about to submit my thesis, thinking about the next step, so I browsed through the WWF website, and I saw Youth Volunteer Program, I said yes... this is the next right thing to do, I'll try! and it was really a good experience, I leaned more than I thought I could.

Solange Uwera, from Rwanda. I am 25 years old. I studied botany and conservation at University. I care about the environment and believe in the power of youth in the creation of the world where people live in harmony with nature, which is why I joined the WWF program for young volunteers.

What we did?
We were a good team of six volunteers working on the project of Holistic Conservation Programme of Forests in Madagascar, with the objective of improving the living conditions of local communities and the preservation of biodiversity in Madagascar. Our daily work was to collaborate closely with local communities in forest protection activities including, the identification of slash and burn alternatives such as the establishment of vegetable gardens, helping people in agricultural activities including, the improved rice cultivation system and give important advice on animal breeding .
reforestation and restoration was also another objective of our project, in this case, we have prepared tree nurseries for further planting activities. Raising awareness on forest protection had been our priority, we held group discussions and video sessions in villages to discuss the wise use and conservation of forest resources. Besides that, we had special activities in each village with the children and women about education, family planning and cooking.

What I learned
My participation in the WWF Explore program gave me a lot of experience. It opened my understanding of how I see the conservation and effort that is used internationally to protect the fragile environment. I learned how community conservation works, such as the transfer of forest management to local communities to strengthen the sustainable use of forests in Madagascar, how villagers was able to protect themselves and manage forests with guidance and assistance of WWF.

There are absolutly three thing anyone will learn from WWF Explore Program. Teamwork spirit, which involves the exchange of ideas on methods to be used during activities where everyone need to accept that his suggestion is sometimes not enough and you accept ideas of your fellow volunteers to be sufficient. This is actually what makes a good team. I enjoyed being in a good team, they became my good and best friends for life.

Secondly, one of the best experiences is how we were able to integrate into the local community, living with the local people, getting to know their culture and language, playing with children. They helped us in everything, we have become good friends and neighbors. They made our stay enjoyable and comfortable.

Exploring the biodiversity of Madagascar was another good thing I enjoyed alot during my volunteer time with WWF. Thanks to the staff of WWF Madagascar who include field visits to the program to allow volunteers to explore different areas of ​​Madagascar. Who can't enjoy watching lemurs jumpin on trees in the jungle? It was a dream come true!

And now, a founder member of...

Do You Want to Give it a Try?

This is a great opportunity WWF is giving us that most organisations can’t provide. Do you want a fresh start after your graduation? Do you want experience from real field activities or do you want to gain knowledge about conservation? This is exactly you good chance. Apply to be a volunteer with WWF EXPLORE PROGRAM, you will learn more than you can imagine.