Report of our volunteer Matthias

A year ago I spent my summer holidays working in Madagascar. It was a time I will never forget; something very special. I wanted what many young people my age are looking for: go abroad and experience something unknown, something new. For me this was Madagascar, an island which many only know through the cartoon.

Shortly after my arrival I was confronted with the countrie’s situation. It shocked me and it would take some time for me to get used to it. Living in Europe, we only know those pictures from the media, but now everything was so real and happened right in front of my own eyes.

The first evenings we sorted out clothes which had been sent via ship container. These would later be distributed at the orphanage and to the nuns. Our first stop was the orphanage where we gave the children clothes and toys. For them it was like Christmas and Birthday in one. It was great to help them.

The first two weeks I spent in Fort Dauphin  with family Zimmermann and their friends. I got to know the city, the surroundings and the people. The surroundings of Fort Daphin are wonderful and I still couldn’t  believe that I was there, on the other side of the world.

After family Zimmermann left I was on my own. This is when my work really started. From now on I gave German, English and Music lessons. Me as a teacher… I had never taught lessons before, despite teaching someone who I could hardly comunicate with (I have to admit my French skills are miserabel). But I made it my task and wanted to handle it. My daily plan from now on looked as follows:

Mornings: Lesson at the orphanage with 13 students between 9 and 25 years

Afternoons: the same at the local school with approx. 20 to 40 students (depending which class) ages 9 to 40 years old.

Me, a 20 year old, who only just managed to get through his A-Levels  was ment to teach adults. After a few difficulties at the beginning the classes went smoothly and my students enjoyed them just as much as I did. Sometimes I was so wrapped up in the lesson, that I wouldn’t even hear the horn of Tita’s car when he arrived to pick me up. I’d like to also thank Madame Rosette, Soeur Marie Jeanne and her sisters who helped me with my work.

During this time I met many interesting people whom I will never forget. Also to support one  another is something I learnt there. We always talk about helping others here but no-one really knows what it means. The Malgache are happy and open minded when you approach them the same way. One of my favourite memories was a festival on the streets where I was standing within the crowd, celebrating with everyone. It didn’t matter where I came from or who I was, I was simply one of them having a good time.

I thank family Zimmermann who welcomed me and supplied me with accomodation. They enabled me to get to know this beautiful country and it’s people. I have rarely met such a nice and open family as them. My respect for their devotion that they put into helping the families and people there.

I’d like to send a special thank you to Tita. He is the kind of friend who is hard to find. He showed me what it means to live in Madagascar or to live the malgache way, always without putting my personal safety at risk. I met his friends and he brought me to place where no tourist has ever been. I will never forget my time with him and I am looking forward to see him again. To all the team: Sara, Versoa and Romain I will always remember them and thank them for taking such good care of me.

I wish La Vision all the best for the future and I would be honored to work with you again. Experiences like I have made cannot be described. Therefor this goes out to everyone who has the chance to help, to simply do so. Don’t be afraid of the new and unknown. Help to help others!

Matthias Dünnwald

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