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Blog from Hilary, MBP Reforestation Team



I’m going to Madagascar to work on a reforestation and lemur conservation program. Is this really happening!?

Following my interview, I had to do everything in my power not to think about the possibility of getting the position before I knew for sure, but after receiving an email offering me the position as a volunteer with the reforestation program, the floodgates were open. Sorting through the thoughts racing through my head like “How am I going to set up my tent?” “Can I fit a soccer ball in my bag” “What books should I bring?” and “Can I start tomorrow?” was like fighting a losing battle. The first order of business was to book a flight and based on my track record, I would need to take some care. Last January when buying a ticket to Southeast Asia, I booked a ticket to Toronto for 12 hours AFTER my flight to Thailand was due to leave. Thankfully this time, with a bit of help, my ticket to Madagascar is booked and I’m set to arrive November 7th!

Since accepting the volunteer position I’ve read anything that a Google search returns about Madagascar and almost everything on the MBP website in an attempt to prepare for the work and months ahead. No I haven’t seen the movie Madagascar  which is everyone’s first question when I tell them my plans. This is often followed by “Be careful of lions…”, but thankfully I won’t have to worry about that unless they develop an affinity for the open ocean in the near future. It’s funny because most people aren’t overly interested in the particulars of what I will be doing in the next six months but once I mention I’ll be foraging for seeds in lemur excrement they usually come up with a few more questions. Through correspondence with MBP I’ve learned I’ll be working in nurseries, caring for seedlings, organizing community planting events and more, but I’m really excited to learn specifics about each of my responsibilities and see how they evolve with the program.  Over the last few years I’ve worked in Canada as a tree planter in industrial silviculture but also on a conservation project in Cold Lake, Alberta. I’ve certainly had plenty of experience planting trees, about 300, 000 of them, but working in MBP nurseries and caring for seedlings is quite new to me. It will certainly be a challenge to adjust to the new climate and culture.

I like to convince myself that I am prepared for the trip, that I have all of the supplies and of course an open mind, yet I know there will most definitely be some obstacles. At this moment, my most worrisome issue is erecting my 1980’s tent (no I was not yet born) without the aid of tent pegs but I’m sure it will make for an interesting story later. Until then, I’ll most likely continue to read blog posts and Google articles and maybe even get around to watching Madagascar. The time of course, will crawl by until the much anticipated November 7th. However, one thing I can wait to experience is the infamous taxi-brousse experience. After reading about another volunteer’s experience in one, I think I may opt to walk to Kianjavato.