Blog from MBP Volunteer, Hilary
Even though the thoughts of going home had been on my mind for several weeks before I made the trip back, it didn’t really sink in that I was leaving until a few days before I headed to Tana. Even now as I’m sitting in a plane on the tarmac in Paris, I’m just realizing the finality of it. Other than Victoria, all of the old group of volunteers had been gone for almost three weeks and I almost had myself convinced I was staying another six months like Victoria. When Donovan, my fellow reforestation volunteer left, things started to get a lot quieter especially during lunchtimes when we were the only two vazaha around. Before I knew it though, the new group of volunteers had arrived and KAFS was getting busier and busier by the day.
Other than regular work and preparing information for the new volunteers, planning my farewell party was consuming a lot of my time. I decided to host the event in Ambalahosy and my friend Hary graciously sacrificed her yard. I wanted to do something a little different so I decided I would attempt to serve a meal before dancing began and although I certainly had my work cut out for me, Hary took the reigns and made it all happen. I handed all decision-making power to her and within half an hour I had a fifty-two person guest list and a thirty-item shopping list. The latter included things like 50 cups of rice, 30 cloves of garlic, and a litre of oil…. A lot of food. Fifty cups of rice sounds like a lot, looks like a lot, but looks like even more after sifting through the entire bag searching for rocks that would likely not be appreciated as a seasoning. Believe it or not, none of it went to waste and the party was a hit. Hary and her husband put on an amazing party (with little help from myself) and after the meal we danced the night away in true Malagasy fashion. When the MBP team put the party on hold to give me a parting gift I surprised myself when I was pushed to tears and had to retreat to Hary’s house to compose myself. I am so grateful to have had such a great send off from all of my coworkers and friends in Kianjavato.
Hopefully my mother doesn’t take offense to this, but the excitement to return home took a bit of a back burner in my final days in Kianjavato. My final week was filled with bittersweet farewell visits with a few of my friends and a continuous denial with Victoria that we’d soon be parting ways. It’s strange to think that the team is likely in the field right now at a planting event and I can’t be there. An older Hungarian woman sitting next to me on my flight told me she was very proud of what I did in Kianjavato but I replied that really I’m just proud to be a part of such a great team of people. Hopefully one day I’ll make it back to Kianjavato and find a forest full of lemurs on a hill once covered in rice fields.