“Before I tell you what volunteering with Ankizy Gasy is, let me tell you what it is not.
Ankizy Gasy is certainly not one of those big multinational charities that make news about their work in papers and colourful magazines. It’s not a commercial volunteering opportunity either: you don’t have to pay for your placement nor follow a customised ‘volunteering programme’. Neither is it an easy piece of work: after all, you will find yourself in an impoverished African country with all attributes of a place so often forgotten by the rich world far away.
Only when you realise all these points will you be truly ready to appreciate the value of volunteering with Ankizy Gasy. And it is immense. Starting from warm hospitality and contagious enthusiasm of its founders and managers Kasia, Patrycja and Ony, whose story will inspire you and make you feel shy of your own achievements to date. Then you might learn to appreciate simple life under African sun and stars of the Southern hemisphere; to appreciate candlelight dinners prepared with fellow volunteers when electricity is down. Or making your own laundry in a plastic bucket.
But of course nothing will ever prepare you for the very purpose and essence of your stay with Ankizy Gasy: teaching and spending time with kids. You will be challenged to step way outside of your comfort zone, stand in front of a class of those incredibly cheerful kids, hungry for knowledge as much as for bread. This will be an engaging, often tiring, yet immensely satisfying experience, seeing the little ones learning yet another word in English or French, and with it learning the world. Or helping older kids practise what they have learned so far, to discuss their motivations, plans and dreams. For in Madagascar education is everything; children there yearn for their chance to go to school for they know that this might be their only chance for a happy, better life.
Be resourceful, spontaneous and cheerful. Children will appreciate your sense of humour and will repay you in kind. Get ready to get dirty walking to school down the dusty rural roads, or helping out on a construction site. Offer your time playing games with girls in a city’s Children’s House: all they need is your attention and good words, something they might have lacked at home.
I spent merely 4 weeks with Ankizy Gasy, from 28 October to 24 November 2016, in a joyful company of fellow volunteers from Poland and Germany, teaching in schools of Ambohidratrimo, organising activities for kids in Ambohidratrimo area and in the Children’s House in Antananarivo, helping out on a contruction site of a new dormitory, or drafting applications for funds. My contribution was nothing in comparison to what I received from the kindest people of Madagascar, and the unforgettable life experience it has been for me ever after. But I sincerely believe the tiniest contribution counts, as the great project of Ankizy Gasy is built on a continuous flow of people ready to share and help. Go to Madagascar and be part of its children’s future.”