Hello Steemian friends,

Hope you are all well, and ready to read this blog post. It's me (Becca) again writing. I am sure you have all had a time, a holiday or an experience that you keep looking and thinking back at. I have so many pictures on my laptop from a lot of previous events and times in my life, I often find myself looking through them, daydreaming of all those memories and the stories behind every picture. One of those experiences is of Madagascar, which I would like to share with you today.

As I mentioned a few posts ago, as a requirement for my university degree, I needed to complete a 6 week working placement in a conservation orientated organisation twice, once in between 1st and 2nd year and again in between 2nd and 3rd year . I could have chosen to work in anything from sustainability and conservation practises within an organisation or go straight into a work placement related to protecting a specific type of animal (species) or environment. I have already spoken about my second placement in between 2nd and 3rd year, which I spent in Crete with the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece. I would like to go back to my first placement which I spent volunteering in South-west Madagascar.

The view from where I stayed in Madagascar

Towards the end of my 1st year at University, all my course mates and myself were told we had to look into what sort of placement we wanted to do, and what sort of conservation work we wanted to get involved in. I have always had an interest in wildlife and the environment, and I was keen on working and learning more about African wildlife and conservation. Immediately what comes to one's mind is lions and elephants and many other 4 legged mammals when you mention Africa. However, I was very much interested in marine life. Throughout my first year of university we had many different lectures on different kinds of conservation initiatives, species and environmental vulnerability. I found the marine environment lectures really interesting, hence I opted to focus my placement choices to marine conservation. I had originally chosen and was given a chance to work with Whale Sharks in Mozambique, however I decided against it. I then came across a UK based non-profit Marine conservation organisation that works in a small coastal village in South-west Madagascar - ReefDoctor. I studied their website, researched all their projects and spoke to the organisations director and co-founder. I absolutely loved what I found and could not wait to tell my parents about it (I was only 18 and wanted my parents opinion). ReefDoctor is passionate about helping the local communities and their livelihood while also passionate about conservation, which I believe is a great combination and is key for conservation success for everyone. I truly believed, and still do, that their projects are a great step in the right direction for marine conservation and their vulnerable ecosystems. I will talk about their projects as I go with this blog series.

Some of the girls from the local village, Ifaty

The kids enjoying a photo session on the beach

A lady from the local community travels on the beach to the nearby village Mangily

Local fishermen on the traditional pirogue boats

I was so happy when my parents also felt the same way as I did about volunteering with ReefDoctor. To apply there was a fee which all volunteers had to pay for the projects, this fee I was happy to pay as I knew it going to go towards great causes (and it was not as pricey as some other African conservation volunteer programmes were - some went way over the $6000 mark for 4 weeks!).

First thing first was to make sure all my jabs were in order and take the extra ones I needed like Typhoid and Hepatitis etc. And then I had a big shopping spree getting all my "just in case meds", as I was going to be based in a very rural area. With that all done and my flights all booked up, I was soon on my way to Antananarivo, Madagascar. I had one night stop between arriving in the capital and catching a domestic flight the next morning to Toliara. This first night in the hotel the organisation set up for me was when I suddenly realised I was away from my family, in a foreign country which no one I knew had ever been to before, and that I was about to do something I felt very passionate about. I felt homesick and did not get any sleep that night. While waiting for my flight the next day, I met a girl from America who was coming to Toliara to work for ReefDoctor too. We became good friends from that moment onwards.

My room for the night in Antananarivo

In Toliara, one of the volunteer coordinators was waiting for us at the airport, we went around town getting some basic essential things like exchanging our money to local currency, getting Malagasy SIM cards and getting our volunteer visas. We waited for two other volunteers to fly in, they were arriving in the afternoon, did the same run around town with them and quickly set off to Ifaty, where the camp is and where the projects are based.

Welcome to ReefDoctor Camp in the Bay of Ranobe everyone!

Stay Classy Steemians!

Wild Wednesday’s is a post written by the @travelling-two every Wednesday to inform their followers and readers about nature and conservation.

Thank you for taking the time to read our post. If you really like our content, please follow us as we post regularly with different topics from Monday to Friday. How about your followers? Would they like this post? If so, please resteem it! Finally, if you are generous, please give us an Upvote! We thank you in advance! Lots of love / @travelling-two