Volunteering: A way for Fabienne to discover her own country

Posted on 07 February 2012
© WWF / Fabienne Rafidiharinirina
Hello, I am Fabienne M. RAFIDIHARINIRINA, I am 25 years old and come from Madagascar. Environment has been since 2005, one of my favourite subjects at university, with a Master in Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in 2010, my former study focuses on the impacts of all socio-economic activities on environment. And as always seeking for more studies and internships related to environment, volunteering appeared to me the best opportunity to delve into the subject.

Advantages of volunteering

To those already involved or not in environmental protection, volunteering is a real opportunity to see how action in favor of environment should be led in the face of the local problem and pressure on natural resources. The Global Conservation Organization (WWF) by means of the Youth Volunteering Program is a perfect example to see not only how one of the world's biggest organizations in environment works, but also to have an insight of the reality and to gain personal experience in field about the worthiest subject of the 21st century. We won’t forget to mention that as a volunteer, you participate to save our home-earth.

If you decide to volunteer, you may want to go back home after the first few days before you begin to feel the way you are at home. What I can advise you is just to think of the importance of the program you will be working on, its objectives and the opportunity it gives you to share with others what you know. As I've said above, your reward will be what you can give. By volunteering, your contribution is source of joy.

Madagascar: A reef complex to protect!

Salary is a coastal village situated in the South West of Madagascar, 80 km on the way to the north of Tulear. In this region can be found the 3rd longest reef complex in the world which is for some scientists, the best on earth. In this village which belongs to the people of the sea known as the « Vezo », conservation is really needed more than ever for marine resources and mostly marine turtles, octopuses, fish are put under the pressure of « fishing » both for the livelihoods and symbol of Vezo culture and identity.

WWF has worked since 2008 in the Northern Region of Salary in order to put in place a Marine Protected Area (MPA) which will be managed by the local community officially known as the « SOARIAKA ASSOCIATION » by means of their own law called « Dina » previously recognised by the malagasy government. This MPA will therefore be managed by the community itself.

What I learned

After 3 months spent in Salary, in addition to the experience acquired in the place, my most important reward is the joy of achieving the programme and helping the communities. I could feel myself helpful and needed.

I learned that conservation in developing countries takes time to be understood and accepted by the remote communities where natural resources are often the pillar of their subsistance. However, participation in conservation projects needs more focus on teaching people starting from children.

After a gap year, I could see so close one controversial environmental problem in Madagascar : the acute controversy between culture and environmental management. September 2011, starting my study in International Environmental Law with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), I hope the possibility for our country of adopting adequate national law and policies which will not only be conform to the International Environmental Law but also respect tradition and lead to sustainable development.

Découvrir le Sud Ouest de Madagascar from WWF Volunteers on Vimeo.

© WWF / Fabienne Rafidiharinirina Enlarge
En classe
© WWF / Fabienne Rafidiharinirina Enlarge
Au pays des Vezo
© WWF / Fabienne Rafidiharinirina Enlarge