Service Trip to Madagascar

CAS Mad 2017 2

View photos from this trip on our Flickr Gallery

In July this year twelve Lower Sixth Form students and three staff travelled to Madagascar to volunteer with the charity SEED Madagascar (Sustainable Environment, Education & Development in Madagascar) an award-winning British registered charity that aims to enhance the capacity of individuals, communities, organisations and governmental bodies in fulfilling sustainable development and conservation goals in southeast Madagascar.

During the twenty-day expedition the team split their time between working on a construction site to help build a new high school building in Manambaro, a rural village overlooking the mountains and helping with conservation surveys in the coastal forests near St Luce. Throughout this time the team camped and experienced long-drop toilets and bucket showers - after just a matter of days everyone took this in their stride.

The construction work in Manambaro involved digging foundations for the school building and learning a number of skills including mixing cement with shovels, brick laying and making rebar by cutting, bending and binding steel bars together with wire. There was a fantastically positive atmosphere on site with students and local builders working alongside each other sharing skills, music and much laughter. Food was prepared in camp and greatly appreciated after a long, hot day on site.

Relaxation time was spent exploring the town, enjoying the stunning mountain views and talking round the campfire. While in Manambaro the team met and had the opportunity to shadow a doctor in the local hospital. This proved both shocking and informative and was certainly an experience that many will not forget.

On leaving Manambaro the students were delighted to hear the Madagascan builders report that they had set the record for the fastest any SEED volunteers have ever completed the foundations of a building. The students raised £2000 through fundraising events in the year leading up to the trip and decided to allocate this to help future projects in Manambaro.

Travelling around Madagascar in the back of a cattle truck was certainly a memorable experience and one best endured from a seated position on the floor so as not to see the state of the road ahead. This was the mode of transport out to St Luce to begin the conservation phase of the expedition.

While camping in the coastal forests of St Luce the team assisted in carrying out surveys of Madagascar’s wildlife to help with on-going research programs. This enabled the students to observe a variety of species of dragonfly, reptiles, amphibians and lemur at close range. Fettes students also took part in delivering environmental lessons to local children in St Luce as well as getting stuck into impromptu games of ‘Duck, Duck, Goose’ and football.

Other trip highlights included visiting Nahampoana Reserve, home to many species of lemur including the dancing Sifaka lemur, drumming lessons at the beach and trekking through steep, leech infested forests to the cascades near Fort Dauphin.

Both staff and students were struck by the extraordinary kindness and generosity of the Madagascan people, our local guides, the builders on the construction site and our hosts at SEED. Many thanks to the accompanying Fettes staff, Pod Expeditions, SEED Madagascar and the brilliant team of students who made this a hugely enjoyable and thought-provoking expedition.

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