I am a 25 year old biology student from Stockholm, Sweden. Apart from studying my daily life involves playing in a Samba group. My first contact was through the Uruguayan Samba called Candombe. Every year there is a big Candombe carnival called Las llamadas that takes place in the suburbs of Montevideo. In 2002 I had the chance to experience this great event and soon thereafter I started playing in a Samba group in Stockholm. Another interest of mine is painting and photography. I love experimenting with colours and pictures.
Before coming to Madagascar I have made several trips to South America, also Asia, northern Africa and around different parts of Europe. These have been very enriching experiences that I believe have given me a broader understanding of different cultures and their societies.
My first contact with Madagascar was through my studies. Madagascar's great biodiversity with its numerous endemic species have always fascinated me. (Endemic species are those only existing in a certain area in the world.)
I always imagined the country as a big green island, and up until some years ago it was. With an expanding population comes a greater need for land, causing the rainforest to disappear. This leaves the landscape dry, making it hard for animals and plants to survive.
WWF plays an important part in reducing the harm of this critical situation, that is why I applied to the Youth Volunteer Program.
I wanted to understand and be part of improving the situation of the rainforest and the species that depend on it for their survival.
As a WWF volunteer I realized that our and WWF's presence made a difference.
What I learned while I was thereOur first project was to create an association called Friends of the Lemurs with the objective to work for the conservation of the rainforest and the lemurs. The association was created in two villages, Ambodihasina and Ambodivohitra Kobahina. Antoine, Claire and Corinne went to Ambodihasina. Julien and I went to Ambodivohitra Kobahina, a village situated 4hours from Andapa in the northeast of Madagascar.
While staying with my host family in Ambodivohitra Kobahina I had the opportunity to get a first hand look into their daily life. They took me to see the rice fields and cultivations of vanilla, pineapple, sugarcane and much more.
I had many strong moments during my stay. I had never experienced anything close to as lively as the singing in their church. All these incredible voices in this small wooden church, it truly felt as another world.
We also got the chance to learn some Malagasy, which resemble the language they speak in Borneo. Here are some of the most common phrases we used
- Salàma (Hello)
- Inona ny vaovao? (Any news?)
- Misaotra betsaka (Thanks a lot)
- Tateki (See you)
- Veloma (Good bye)
Living in the village made me understand how closely people lived with nature and their dependency on wood for everyday chores as cooking, building houses etc.
There is a need for a substitute, something that takes away the need to cut down trees.
Solutions we talked about were for example using the rice shield instead of wood for burning, and building houses out of bricks.
Below you have my video that I made during my stay in Madagascar. I wanted to portray the everyday life in Madagascar. The things they have that we lack and the things that we in the western society have and they don’t.
If you're thinking of volunteering and want to talk more about what it's like and what to expect, you can email me at this address:
My advice would be...
Madagascar will always have a special place in my heart. I could keep on writing about the great things that happened while I was there, but experiencing these things is totally different from reading about them.
So my advice to you is to take this unique opportunity to go and experience Madagascar in this way for yourself.