SEED Madagascar Pioneer Internship Madagascar

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About

The Pioneer program gives you the opportunity to work on-the-ground in three interrelated project areas; development, conservation and sustainable livelihoods, while living and working within the local community. Activities include building schools in rural villages, constructing wells to improve access to clean water and building fuel-efficient stoves.The Pioneer volunteers then join our conservation team for 2-3 weeks in St Luce to assist in collecting data on lemur behaviour and on reptiles and amphibians,may assist in our tree planting programme and also deliver environmental education at the local primary school.

The Pioneer Programme is offered as an internship for those wishing to gain experience and/or credit for a college or university course. The major difference between whether you take the programme as an intern or a volunteer relates to the amount of mentorship and self-evaluation available to you during your time on the programme.

For programme dates see website.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

98%
based on 17 reviews
  • Growth 8.9
  • Support 9.5
  • Fun 9
  • Housing 9.2
  • Safety 9.8
Showing 1 - 15 of 17
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Joseph
10/10

Pioneer changed my life

I wanted to do some volunteering overseas before I went to uni. My two pre-requisites for choosing who to go with were 1) the org must do genuine community-based and where possible community-owned work 2) it had to be completely off the beaten track (who isn’t tired of listening to stories about the SE ASia / Aus / NZ gap year circuit?!). SEEDMadagascar’s Pioneer programme completely hit these out of the park AND the 10 weeks I spent there opened the door to a 12 year and counting career in development and humanitarian work that has taken me not only back to Madagascar over four times (with SEED!) but around the world to other incredible places and to Geneva where I am now working with the UK Department for International Development at the United Nations. None of this would have been possible without that foundation in real community based development work that SEED provide... and as far as I am aware they are the only volunteer organisation out there that are not only based but deeply rooted in the communities they work in. If you want to work hard, have fun, gain great experience and make a difference - look no further than pioneer!

How can this program be improved?
By being brought to the attention of more people, so more can share in the great experiences I have had! Everything else is there.
Yes, I recommend
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Cindy
8/10

Privileged and humbling experience - thank you!

Just over 9 years ago, by the recommendation of my Alma matter, I volunteered for 8 weeks with the then Azafady, pioneer program. As the projects were identified, developed and delivered by Malagasy folks, you knew the work being done was genuinely needed. However in my naivety, I didn't realize that I would gain much more from this experience than I could ever give.

One memory that stands out, is the welcome we received when arriving to the village we would be building a school and latrine for. The singing, dancing, and drumming will forever resonate with me. In that moment, it solidified for me, that what we were not exacerbating a problem but very much a part of a solution.

The program was set up in a way that really valued each volunteer, and the uniqueness of their experience. Staff were very supportive and open to your concerns and questions. There was flexibility in the programming to allow for free time to explore on our own and accompanied by staff through organized excursions.

It was a privilege to experience just a small fragment of Malagasy culture and am so thankful to all the staff, volunteers and people of Madagascar.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Bronwyn
10/10

Pioneer program - School building

I was on the Pioneer program for a total of eight weeks and loved almost every minute of it! The construction work challenged me just enough to drive me to improve my own skills, and if there was something I did struggle with the local construction team and the guides were always there to help. I found that the nature of our work meant that the volunteers worked together well as a team and therefore I have now made (hopefully) friends for life from across the globe.

One of the aspects I enjoyed the most was the chatting that we all started when we were working, because it wasn't just the volunteers and the Malagasy guys in separate groups, there was a lot of overlapping between everyone, resulting in me learning a lot of Malagasy while I was there.

Another benefit of doing the Pioneer program is that if you are volunteering for 6 or more weeks, the last two weeks are spent at the conservation permanent location in Saint Luce, which meant I was able to get a view of the consvation efforts that SEED undertakes as well as making an immediate difference in the construction side of the program.

How can this program be improved?
I honestly don't think I can think of anything that wasn't out of their control!
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Chris
10/10

An experience without equal

Spending ten weeks in Madagascar meeting such wonderful people, doing such amazing work and enjoying such a beautiful place is one of the best decisions I have ever made - join the programme!!

The variety of tasks that the charity is engaged in and which I was able to assist with is truly staggering and paints a picture of an organization which understands the interconnectivity of the problems affecting the people of the region. During the pioneer programme I assisted with conservation and climate change research, reforestation projects, community consultations, English teaching, sanitation projects, construction and probably more which I have forgotten. One particularly memorable task involved trekking up a remote river system in search of a critically endangered water palm to assist in a doctoral thesis.

How can this program be improved?
I did not have a single complaint.
Yes, I recommend
Tom
10/10

Incredible Experience

I volunteered with SEED Madagascar in the Autumn/Winter of 2011 for 10 weeks. In this time I was part of a team helping to build a school in a rural village outside of Fort Dauphin, and towards the end of my time, we built fuel efficient stoves in remote communities in the surrounding area. Living in the areas where the projects were based, we met and worked with the people that these projects directly effect, making the work ever more rewarding.

I cannot recommend this programme enough, having come straight from sixth form at the time, I did a lot of developing and learning, the experiences I had will stay with me forever. The teams in the UK and Fort Dauphin are very supportive of all staff and volunteers before and during their time in Madagascar, they are always happy to help. We learnt the local language with lessons from our local guides, whilst getting involved with the local communities and culture. In short, I wouldn't think twice about returning to do this project again, this experience above and beyond anything similar.

Yes, I recommend
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Kathryn
10/10

Fantastic experience with SEED Madagascar as a Pioneer Intern

I had the opportunity to take a career break at the start of 2016 and I wanted to spend some time volunteering in Africa, putting my environmental health and safety career expertise to good use and be a part of making a small difference to communities that would benefit from sustainable development initiatives. SEED Madagascar gave me the opportunity to do just that. Firstly, they are one of the only sustainable development charities that offers a short-term 3 month program, which fitted in with my schedule perfectly. They were also incredibly friendly, helpful in talking thrugh the different options available to me and flexible in their approach. I enjoyed the 10 week program so much, that I extended my stay for 2 weeks to offer my assistance in reporting projects back in the office.

The Pioneer offers something for everyone who is interested in international sustainable development. You get to be involved in education, health sanitation, sustainable livelihoods and conservation projects, which gives a great insight into the different types of work and a good understanding of the different interconnected factors at play when it comes to development and cultural behavioural change.

At first, I wasn't sure I wanted to spend 6 weeks on a construction site building a school building. However, this turned out to be my highlight and was so rewarding. You really get to live and work with the local community and can see that your efforts will actually make a real impact to a certain number of people. Within 6 weeks, we had almost completed a full school building and finished off painting the first and built 40 desks, so that an additional 160 students could attend the lycee. Whilst here, I also got the chance to teach the students English, which was a great experience. We were greeted through town each evneing as we went to get a cold beer at Lily's Bar with cries of our names from the children as we passed. It was a truly enriching experience and I couldn't recommend it enough.

Yes, I recommend
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Daniel
10/10

Amazing, wouldn't change a thing!

I was a volunteer back in 2012 with Azafady, and can honestly and with no exaggeration say it has changed my life.

As a short-term volunteer I joined the Pioneers for just 3 weeks, working on a school refurbishment project out in rural Madagascar. The local staff were lovely, caring people, and the long-term international volunteers who acted as co-ordinators were great too - hands on, got involved in the work and really made you feel valued.

The benefit of the work we were doing was obvious - a school which was barely usable, leaking and not a good learning environment was transformed over the course of just a few weeks! Although almost none of us had any prior construction experience, the professional local team taught us well, and by the end of it I was a cement mixing master.

It's no picnic though - as Azafady tell you before you go, you do need to be prepared to work hard, to eat plain food, and to brave long drop latrines. We also had issues some days with delayed construction supplies or last minute changes to plans - things don't work as smoothly as we're used to. However, given how tough the situation is in Madagascar most of the time, little issues like this are to be expected, and for me they are part of the adventure!

This experience reignited my love of travel and volunteering, and I've returned to Madagascar since to work with Azafady again - and I wouldn't be surprised to go back a third time!

Fantastic charity doing great work. Be a part of it!

How can this program be improved?
Genuinely difficult to say!

Perhaps give short-term volunteers the chance to learn more about the projects/charity before they get there - it's interesting stuff but tough to absorb it all in a hot office with the distractions of Madagascar outside the window.
Yes, I recommend
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Andy
9/10

lemurs, laughs and life-changing

Hi, I was on the Pioneer Programme two years. All the people in our programme came for different reasons and I think all of them gained much more than they expected. Azafady go out of their way to provide a safe but authentic experience, giving you a real insight into the lives and problems faced by ordinary Madagascan people. The countryside is beautiful, the people warm and friendly and many of my group extended their stay to go travelling together.
It's a demanding programme, but you get out much more and feel you have made a real contribution - so go for it ; I know 16 people who thought it was one of the best decisions of their lives

How can this program be improved?
More time to meet local people and travel more widely in the region.
Yes, I recommend
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B
10/10

inexplicably wonderful experience

I completed the ten week pioneer programme in Jul-Sep 2014, it was a truly humbling experience that altered my views on the world. Although manual labour can be tough and repetitive it was at no point boring. I learnt a lot about how charities undertake their work in the field, the charity educated me about the local region, their various projects, their reasoning behind them and how funding is collected and administered. I found it very interesting to find out about the charity sector. The tasks you undertake on the projects are varied and you learn many new skills, no previous experience is required. The Azafady staff are amazing, welcoming and truly look out for you, at no point did I feel unsafe. My favourite part was that you could physically see the difference that you were making to the local community. Spending ten weeks with a group of like minded individuals meant making life long friends, I really couldn't recommend this experience more.

How can this program be improved?
I would offer people more opportunity to work in the main office if they so wished, so they could get a taste of how a charity is run.
Yes, I recommend
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Laura
10/10

Excellent!

I was in Madagascar with Azafady from April-June 2014 and had probably the best ten weeks of my life. The work we were doing was both meaningful and sustainable, making us really feel as though we were making a difference to people's lives and to the environment. The staff went way beyond the call of duty to make sure we were having the best experience possible, and the scenery/campsites were BEAUTIFUL!

Yes, I recommend
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Johanna
10/10

An Unforgettable Experience

I spent July and August 2013 volunteering with Azafady's Conservation Program, and I can honestly say that everyday I spent there was absolutely incredible. We were able to work hands on in conducting research on biodiversity and conservation and despite any challenges that could come our way, Azafady was always there to support and care for its volunteers before, during, and after our time in Madagascar. As a small NGO, it was so impressive to see how much work is being don in the region where Azafady operates, and how much of an impact this work has made on the lives of the local people and the environment. I have volunteered abroad with organizations in the past, but none have made such an impact as Azafady has on my life. I would HIGHLY recommend this program to anyone, especially to those with interest in conservation work in one of the world's biodiversity hot spots, as well as to anyone who enjoys working with local communities.

How can this program be improved?
The only thing that would have improved my time with Azafady is the chance to stay even longer!
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
louiskirkup123
10/10

An Incredible Experience

I did the 10 week Pioneer scheme (Jan-March) as a part of my gap year. I felt like I was in safe hands all the way through from pre-daparture to landing back home. Our group was led by confident, English speaking, Malagasy staff, who guided us expertly through our volunteering procedure. They knew the ins and outs of the country since they had lived there all their life and became great friends of the group. Our group was an excellent range of people, from all over the world and also different ages, so although I was on my gap year, it isn't a scheme full of mainly gap year students. We all bonded tightly as a group and by the end of the 10 weeks were a close group of friends. There was an option to stay and travel after the 10 weeks which I didn't do, but heard it was a fantastic travelling experience. Expect the volunteering projects to be tough as they can be very hard not just physically, but mentally. From mixing cement in tropical heat, to planning english and conservation lessons to be taught to the local children. Walking for 2, 3, 4 hours to complete community surveys, then the next day planting hundreds of trees. It really offers the complete range of volunteering experience.

You will have an amazing time volunteering with Azafady.

How can this program be improved?
I would have done the extra travelling time at the end after the 10 weeks was up.
Yes, I recommend
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Christin
10/10

Great experience

This is a volunteer program from you benefit more than the comunity. Even so you can see the improvement and fun in the community, which you bring.
But hard manual work, international group 24/7, living in a tent without shower and flush toilettes and daily rice and beans forms a new little family for you and it will be a great time.

How can this program be improved?
The work you do is beneficial but in the end Azafady needs your money not your labour.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
claire.124
10/10

Pioneering with Azafady - Madagascar at its Best

I had an amazing experience in Madagascar with Azafady when I took part in their Pioneer Volunteer project over summer 2011. I was there for the full 10 weeks, and even had the chance to travel for a week once it was done. Our time was broken up into three work placements, two on a school construction site just outside a village and one building stoves in a different community. The project was extremely well organised and we volunteers were made to feel comfortable enough outside whilst still being firmly outside our comfort zones. The work was trying but incredibly rewarding, and it, as well as our down time, was spent in stunning landscapes. On our time off we were able to explore the various towns and environs we worked in, as well as visit some beautiful beaches and go on long hikes. We were able to get to know the locals, villagers and Azafady team members alike, and were integrated enough with them to learn lots about the language and culture. I would highly recommend this project to anyone!

Yes, I recommend
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John
10/10

Lead to a job in the development sector

I had a fantastic experience on Pioneer with Azafady. Madagascar is a beautiful country and it left me feeling so lucky that I'd had the opportunity to experience it and be a part of it. On the programme we were working with the communities on projects that they'd asked for and so it really felt like we were making a difference there. It was over 6 years ago now that I went on the programme but memories from my time there fill my head everyday and im still in contact with others I met out there. You do need to be prepared for roughing it a bit though - camping, getting dirty and working hard in all weather conditions so if you're looking for a holiday then probabaly not for you but otherwise get stuck in and you'll love it!!

Yes, I recommend

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About SEED Madagascar

SEED Madagascar is an award-winning UK registered charity and Malagasy NGO dedicated to supporting the people and ecosystems of Madagascar, one of the most biologically rich but economically poor countries in the world. Our approach is one of co...