On June 13th, myself and 2 other PCV’s, brought 18 students from the three Eastern villages of Madagascar, Mahanoro, Vavatenina, Anivorano Antsinana to attend a four day Malaria Environment Camp. The students were chosen based on their academic abilities, motivation, and leadership skills. Arriving on Friday to the Andasibe National Park, the camp took off with introductions and team bonding activities aimed at forming new friendships. Little did we know that the rest of the three camp days all 18 students would be inseperable and their bond would continue far past a weekend. From Environment lessons and nature walks held by the Mitsinjo association to Peace Corps volunteer led malaria sessions stretching from prevention to symptoms, the camp was nothing short of a success. The students experienced hands on learning activities and their chance to become a leader within the camp and their communities.
On the final day the students suprised us volunteers with theatrical skits about Malaria. The evening ended with a bondfire anf roasted chocolate bananas while the students reminisced about an unforgettable weekend.
Going beyond the schedualed lessons, the students led themselves into exchanging ideas for creating and implementing successful English clubs at their respective sites. During free time they practiced English dialogues and discussed amoung themselves the lessons of the day to ensure the applicability of the days lessons.
As they parted goodbye the next morning, they exchanged phone numbers and small written letters. Despite their bittersweet goodbyes the students applied their newfound knowledge of malaria by educating passengers on their way back home.
While only 6 students from each village participated they returned home and within the next weeks the volunteers witnessed those students spreading their knowledge of Malaria within their community to a much larger population.
“Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world; indeed, its the only thing that ever has. ” Margaret Mead