My experience in the Youth Club

This week we interviewed one of the Youth Club members, Mayeul! Mayeul has recently got a job as an intern Economic Development Board of Madagascar. He is currently in his probation perod but we all hope he will keep working there as his loves this job so much!

Frontier´s teachers: Why do you come to Youth club?

Mayeul: I come to Youth club because I want to learn the english language and improve my knowledge. I'd like to meet and make lots of new friends. I think it's good to learn a foreign language as it will be easier for me to communicate with foreigners.

Frontier´s teachers: Do you enjoy coming to Youth club?

Mayeul: Yes, I do! Because my teachers are all nice and lovely people. Also, they teach me very well, and educate me as their own brothers, and I love them. They have offered me the chance to be friends with them. I'm happy to have met them because they are one of the best things that has happened to me. My class mates are also nice.

Frontier´s teachers: When did you first start learning English?

Mayeul: I first started learning English last year because I love the english language and it makes me joyful to speak it, especially with foreigners.

Frontier´s teachers: What are your plans for the future involving English?

Mayeul: I will go on to learn it, I mean I will never give it up and then I want to get a job where I can speak English.  If I have the opportunity I'll travel in countries where people speak English.

Frontier´s teachers: Anything else?

Mayeul: I want to learn Spanish and Italian for the same reason that I learn English at the moment.


Mayeul, 25, student in the Youth Club

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Match Day!

The bets were on, the players were warming up and the kids were eagerly awaiting the starting whistle… That’s right; it was Match Day - Frontier vs. Teachers! And in all honesty it was hard to tell where the kid’s loyalty lay; they were sitting on the fence and cheering for everyone. Team Frontier had a look of defiance; we really wanted to win. Our looks were met by the teachers’ calm confidence; they thought they would beat us easily. Everyone could tell, the anticipation was heavy in the air; this was going to be a good game!

Game one: Basketball

It’s safe to say that Frontier won hands down at basketball. However, a slight advantage was ours with the majority of our team impersonating Goliath and towering above the teachers. They played valiantly though and when they finally scored the uproar was incredible; the kids were in a frenzy cheering and jumping around ecstatically! It was an exciting game to watch as the teams had fairly equal possession of the ball throughout, but when push came to shove and the final whistle blew, it was clear the Frontier’s aim had prevailed, winning us the game 8-1. The burning look of determination in the teachers’ eyes spoke volumes as they prepared for round two; “This isn’t over yet!”

Game two: Football

After a brief respite, where t-shirts were wrung of sweat and glorious water was consumed, the teams once again came face to face on the pitch. It was a tense moment. This time we were more equally matched as where we had the height, the teachers had the speed and agility. In particular one feisty little nun stubbornly blocked our hard earned attempts at their goal again and again, to the applause of the kids, teachers and Frontier! After a fierce battle, we drew 3-3 and former foes became friends once more with a handshake and a chuckle.

It was such a great event to get involved with as everyone, the kids especially, had so much fun. Also, it brought everyone together as each project, Forest, Marine and Community, all got involved to play against the locals which created a great feeling of community spirit. Having the locals on our side is essential in helping our projects to develop and make the difference we want them to make. If we involve the locals in our work it makes our job a lot easier and more enjoyable because, as a team, we are protecting their homes and environment.

So even though Frontier won Match Day this time (well done us!) the battle is still raging on. Until the next time teachers!

By Lizzie Unsworth, Field Communications Officer

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Getting Aquainted with Nose Be

Arriving into Nosy-Be, after a stress free but sweaty flight, was really exciting as I received a lovely welcome from all the staff and volunteers in the house. Getting straight into it the next day I was given a tour of the vibrant little town that I am to call home for the next six months. Receiving a cheery “bonjour” from the locals and finally seeing the beautiful scenery firsthand, I start to think, “I can get used to this!”

It’s clear to see the good work being done by the Frontier Madagascar Community Projects, even in the short time that I have been here. The volunteers have been giving P.E. lessons at the local primary school and the kids, as is evident from grins on their faces, love their weekly lesson. The lessons usually involve a vigorous warm up and then shuttle run races, where the kids, nine times out of ten, beat the volunteers.

Our construction volunteer is also involved with the school and this week she has been painting flower pots for them to go outside their classrooms. They are big plastic containers that she’s ingeniously recycled into flower pots and has painted bright, friendly pictures all over them to capture the kid’s imaginations.

A night at the local youth club, where we should really have been discussing the correct verbs and tenses to use when practicing the English language, turned into a spontaneous dance off and clapping competition due to a power cut and a tropical storm. Seeing the guys pulling some really impressive dance moves, to the backdrop of flashing lightning and rumbling growls of thunder, is not something I will easily forget and neither would I want to!

Also, our Physiotherapy volunteer has been making visits to a local orphanage for children with disabilities for five weeks and it’s obvious that he’s made a big impression on the kids there, mentally and physically. One little girl especially, he tells me, really struggled to walk at all when he first arrived and now she’s a lot stronger after their muscle exercises that they’ve been practicing together. What better reward could you want? After seeing all these great things going on in town in just three days I can’t wait to see what I’ll discover and to see how many amazing people I will meet in the next six months!

By Lizzie Unsworth, Field Communications Officer

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What will I remember from being on a Madagascar Community Project

To choose one favourite part of my community project is impossible. Everything, from the amazing people I’ve met to the exciting challenges of teaching, has contributed to what has been a truly fantastic experience. But I think for me what was one of the most pleasantly surprising parts of the project, was getting the opportunity to get to know and become close friends with some of the locals. The guys at youth club, both during lessons and on the ‘adventures’ we had with them, are all very special people.

Teaching them doesn’t feel like a lesson, it’s more like hanging out with friends. But their enthusiasm with learning English is inspiring and reminded how lucky I am to have received such a good education. I can’t not mention Mayeul at this point. He is one of the most warm and friendly and enthusiastic people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. His determination to learn English in order to find a job was extremely impressive and when he did finally achieve this, it was perhaps my happiest moment here yet for it couldn’t have gone to a more deserving person and it felt wonderful to have helped him accomplish this goal.

Their gratitude towards us for teaching them is ever present. Just getting to spend time with them is more than enough of a reward for the supposed ‘work’ we do teaching them but they still pay us back in the form of excursions around Nosy Be that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to do. These have included a trip to the beach, a day at a bar (also on the beach) which included an excellent day time disco (dancing with them has got to be one of the funnest and most exhausting things I’ll ever do) and a walk through the Lokobe National Park to get to a tiny little beach completely free of tourists. And of course most of these were with the help of Cool Paul, our personal Tuk Tuk driver. Having turned up to youth club one night with not a word of English, Paul has come on leaps and bounds and has made us volunteers the proudest of teachers. While driving us around he loves to stop and tell us a bit about the places we see and has even taught us how to drive his Tuk Tuk (things got pretty exciting when we hit second gear).

All these guys are awesome and I’m going to miss them enormously. I feel incredibly privileged to know them and I will miss them and the whole community project a huge amount.

Lydia McCallum, Madagascar Adventurer/Community Projects Volunteer

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Tips & advice for anyone planning to join a community project in Madagascar

Currently being the longest serving volunteer in the community house, I have seen many new volunteers arrive, being ill prepared to survive life in our humble lodging. So I thought I’d write some top tips, so that if you are one of those awesome people who decides to come and do community, you’ll be better prepared and have an even more awesome time here.

First things first – not everything that is essential is written as ‘essential’ on the kit list. For example, extra food items is labelled as ‘optional.’ Don’t worry, that’s why I’m here to give you extra tips. Extra food items are most certainly essential. Do not make the mistake of arriving unarmed as I did. I suggest bringing items such as marmite, chocolate spread, peanut butter, Ribena and truckloads of chocolate. You will not regret it.

Secondly, speakers do not make the cut on the kit list, but are an amazing addition to the community house. When we have speakers, most nights turn into karaoke, lipsync and dance off competitions. If you would like to share in this joy, please bring speakers.

Thirdly, don’t think about not bringing a laptop. You must bring a laptop – unless you want to write your weekly blog articles on Helena’s Croatian laptop. If you don’t know anything about Croatian laptops, basically the Y and Z keys are switched around, meaning every time I try to write ‘Youth Club’ it comes out as ‘Zouth Club,’

Next, you should practice your cooking skills before you come. More specifically, perfect the art of cooking rice before you arrive, as well as the skill of peeling and cutting a pineapple.

Lastly, if you will be doing teaching here (which, by the way, you all should because it’s the best thing ever) learn how to write cursively before you arrive. It can be a bit embarrassing when students can’t read your handwriting.

I hope these top tips help you, and I look forward to seeing many videos and photos of you all on the Facebook page, laden with laptops, speakers, food, perfectly cut pineapple and neat handwriting.

By Hannah Steel

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