This is what environmental education or in our case a flying circus in Madagascar could feel like…
“Behave like a chameleon: look forward and observe behind.” *
After finishing my studies in Environmental Science and working as an intern in an environmental office for half a year, the time had come to travel far away again (before looking for a “real” job). Traveling has always been a kind of addiction for me, but this time I knew I wanted to do more than just hit the road. During different voyages in (mostly Asian) countries, I not only saw beautiful landscapes, friendly people and thrilling culture but also the poorness, the lack of education and the obvious pollution of the environment. So why not combine being away and doing something useful for a country that doesn’t have the same possibilities and knowledge as a western country like Switzerland
“If the Flood would impend tomorrow, Noah would have to build the Ark in Madagascar.” *
You are interested in volunteering for WWF, maybe even especially in Madagascar. Then you probably already know tons about the extraordinary nature on the Red Island and how vulnerable and worthy of protection it is. Or you want to find out yourself!
Exactly what I wanted to do. Find out what conservation work in a developing country is all about. Work hand in hand with local WWF workers and the local community “en brousse” (out in the jungle or just in the countryside). And I wasn’t disappointed, my expectations had been fulfilled. Still and with hindsight of course, everything came completely different from what I thought.
This is what my work in Itampolo and Ejeda in the very dry south of Madagascar looked like:
Convincing the people of the villages to plant a tree called Moringa oleifera. Going around rounding up women in the shade of a tamarind tree. Talking and singing about the usage of this tree, for food and for purifying water (if you want to know more about this magical tree: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moringa). Explaining and showing how to cook a simple meal with the leaves of Mirongo. And at the end, hoping that these people would be enthusiastic and convinced to plant and cultivate this useful tree.
Daniella describes our work in her report as well, so read on here!
What a small and simple job we appeared to have! But how many hours did we spend on thinking how to bring our message home to somebody? And practising our song and waiting and waiting. And asking ourselves what the heck are they thinking and saying!
In the end, the most important thing was to be there, to lay a small stone of a mosaic; they know that you came from far away just to sing them a song!
[* Malagasy proverb]