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.