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Meet Project Coordinator Celine Kerslake-Sim

Meet Celine from Surrey. She graduated with a Civil Engineering degree from Durham University and since then has thrown herself into the world of community and education work. After university Celine travelled to Zimbabwe with VSO, where she conducted HIV and AIDS education. She first arrived in Nosy Be in March this year, for 6 months, as the Teaching Project Coordinator; but soon after arriving home, decided that she missed it too much and needed to come back. This time Celine is here for a year as Project Coordinator for Frontier Madagascar. She clearly just can’t get enough of Madagascar! I interrogated her to find out more…

Every child has the same opportunity and chance of success regardless of their background

Why did you want to come back to Madagascar?

I suppose, as a self-confessed control freak, I really couldn’t image anyone else doing my job! But most of all, I missed the people in the community of Hell-ville as I made such good friends when I was here last time. I want to stretch myself as Project Coordinator because I have a lot of ideas and projects that I would like to start while I’m here. Therefore, it’s a great opportunity to do so, as well as seeing the current projects develop further. Being here for a year, I’m looking forward to seeing the changes in the climate, as we’ll soon enter the wet season. 

What are your aims and what would you like to achieve while you’re here?

I want to provide an opportunity for locals to learn technical skills with computers and to improve their literacy skills. Bringing all of our projects together is another aim of mine, allowing us to introduce conservation into the community which is really important. Collaborating the marine and forest projects with the community will allow us to use our data to educate the local people on conservation and sustainability in their area. 

How would you describe life in Hell-Ville, Nosy Be?

Life here is great! Everybody is happy and will always say ‘hello’ when I walk down the street, regardless whether they know me or not. There are so many friendly faces and I feel that people are open and really want to speak to you. The town is always busy and alive whether with people, zebu (local cow) or tuk tuks. In one word, I would describe Hell-ville as ‘buzzing’. I love a peaceful walk along the coast in a morning or evening.

  What has been your favourite meal whilst being here?

Definitely the street food, particularly the fresh, spicy fried fish and fried banana!

What will you miss the most from home?

Macaroni cheese. Having wifi in bed, talking to my cat and of course my family.

What has been your best experience so far?

I really enjoy teaching at the Agricultural School where we teach twice a week. We teach English to the students who are around the age of 19 and have recently started teaching conservation lessons there, with the forest and marine projects contributing. Not long ago a parent told me that their child looks forward to Frontier lessons which makes the whole thing really rewarding.

Favourite Memories?

Hell-ville is very unpredictable as their local phrase is ‘mora mora’ which means ‘slowly slowly’ and they certainly live by it!

• Once I just walked out of the house straight into a parade of women marching down the street, bashing wooden spoons together to make music.

• I think the women in the traditional dress holding baskets on their heads are incredibly beautiful and very talented! Once I saw them dressing a Zebu (local cow) with the dresswear!

• On one occasion one of our volunteers was asked to cut a baby’s hair because they believe that the baby will grow to be beautiful if the person who first cuts their hair is good-looking.

• After walking into the supermarket, ‘Shampion’, I was completely startled when a chicken was flapping about in one of the shopping baskets beside me- it scared me to death and the whole shop laughed at me.

• Another favourite memory of mine is the festival that happens annually. They are celebrations of music, called, ‘Donia’ and, ‘Somaroho’. They are funded by a local artist called Wawa and the whole town celebrates for a week. Even the schools shut.
Hell-ville and its people are always surprising me therefore I can always expect to see the most bizarre things. I love it.

By Amy Wright - Field Communications Officer

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