Another year is drawing to a close, and of course with this comes the inevitable desire to reflect and plan ahead. My own year thus far has been very special, I was able to have a once in a lifetime kind of adventure where thanks to a couple of years of saving, planning and anticipating, I was fortunate enough to step the soles of my feet onto the soil of three continent, nine countries and dozens of cities. Along the way, I crossed paths with three forgiving snakes, swam with a group of rescued elephants and dipped my toes in many parts of our planets warm turquoise seas. The journey was diverse to say the least; one month saw me hiking through handfuls of exotic national parks while the next had me immersing myself in ancient Roman history. I crossed paths with countless other souls too, from my time meditating with Buddhist monks to shakings hands with African villagers who’d never before seen blonde hair.Read More
Having just completed a 3-month trip to Madagascar, here is my account of the experiences with the various NGO’s that are doing amazing things for the Malagasy population and supporting the countries development. Akany Avoko Faravohitra is residential rehabilitation centre in the capital city, Antananarivo. It provides a safe haven for nearly 50 girls who have been placed in the juvenile justice or child welfare systems. The girls are looked after, mentored and provided with empowering training that aims to give them the opportunity to become self-sustainable in adulthood through avenues such as cooking and various handicrafts. The centre also hosts international volunteers who give the girls an opportunity to learn about other cultures and provide them with hands on experience of learning languages such as English and French. Ankizy Gasy is another wonderful organization based in the town Ambohidratrimo just outside the capital. The main focus of their work is supporting the families of local underprivileged children by funding their yearly expenses of attending school but they also organize activities and English lessons with their volunteers and run a canteen for the poorest of the community.Read More
If you are considering becoming a volunteer English teacher with Hope for Madagascar and are interested in hearing about the perspective of someone who has already had the experience, here is my very recent and detailed account. When researching volunteer opportunities in Madagascar, I came across dozens of possibilities but only a couple immediately grabbed my attention because of a combination of two reasons. First, the programs were already well established and received regular participants, often quite a handful at a time. This is wonderful of course but Madagascar is huge and I felt that my time would be better given to a location that is more remote and not in receipt of so much attention already. Second, the majority of these programs were also very expensive with costs running into thousands for a couple of weeks of work. While I understood that this money would go on to support the local economy and the running costs of the NGO, on this occasion, I wanted my contribution to be of time and energy, not money.Read More
Chiang Mai is a bustling city in the Northern mountainous region of Thailand; it’s full of obvious treasures (and plenty of hidden gems) ready to fill visitors with awe and wonder. Chiang Mai is the fourth most populous city in the country with about 170 thousand people living within the perimeter and many more on the outskirts.
While the center of town can feel typically Southeast Asian with lots of concrete, traffic and pollution, rest assured there is peace to be found within the chaos and luscious jungles and gorgeous mountains and not very far away. All in all, keeping yourself busy, relaxing, and generally making the most of your time will be so easy as there is much on offer.Read More
It has now been nearly a month since my return from the beautiful island of Madagascar, and although I’ve already shared many stories with friends and family, now feels like an appropriate time for a little bit more reflection because albeit short, it really was a trip of a lifetime and I’m eternally grateful for having had the opportunity to experience it. I’m still not entirely sure why this trip far exceeded all of my expectations or why it felt so special. As a seasoned traveller with six continents and thirty-five countries under my belt, I can say with certainty that there was much more to it than just following my sense of wanderlust or having a new experience. It was something much deeper that I can’t quite put into appropriate words but feel compelled to try anyway. The aim of this trip was to try and raise money for WaterAid and to learn more about the work they do in Madagascar. Of course, with that came the opportunity to learn more about the country, and to experience some of its natural wonders, and to meet some of its beautiful people.Read More