A chapter is closing in the lives of 25 children of Ifaty. The children who were Reef Doctor’s Juniors for the past 3 years. During those years, they learnt about environmental protection, marine as well as terrestrial. They had the chance to witness with their own eyes the beauty and importance of the environment as we were teaching them through different activities outside of Reef Doctor. In this article, we’ll lead you through these past 3 years and let the Juniors tell you what they experienced and what they retain from this experience.
The Junior Reef Doctor Scholarship Programme started in 2014. The children of the Malagasy staff, who can read and write, as well as 15 other pupils of the EPP Ifaty (Public Primary School Ifaty), the most deserving in three different classes, formed the 30 Reef Doctor Juniors during these 3 years. Every Saturday morning, they came to Reef Doctor’s classroom from 8 till 12. For the last year, they had lunch with the education team before heading home, a meal prepared by the women’s group of Ifaty.
In the program, environment and ecology, oceans and seas, coastal areas, mangroves, coral reefs, human impacts: waste and pollution, but also sustainable management of littoral and halieutic resources. During this last year they have also studied water and hydrologic cycles, soils and forests. For every topic, they learnt what it is, what it provides, but also the threats they’re facing and how we can help protect it.
The Juniors also had the chance to witness with their own eyes what they were taught about during several excursions. Amongst those, they went whale watching, visited the mangrove at our Honko site in Ambondrolava, and discovered the Spiny Forest in Mangily as well as the tortoise sanctuary. They attended a “Green School” for 3 days with Bel Avenir and we took them to snorkel around our MPA Rose Garden. The apotheosis of the Junior Programme was most probably on the 28th of January when they held an open day at the Ifaty primary school to show their families, friends and the whole community what they had learned.
These 30 kids all enjoyed being part of the Juniors and were proud to represent Reef Doctor. At several events, such as the MPA Relay, they sang and danced in the name of Reef Doctor and were wonderful performers!
We collected some testimonials so the Juniors can tell us themselves what they liked and how these 3 years will help them in the future.
Souveline: I really liked the Juniors, especially the atmosphere, the community and the fact that nobody was ever fighting. The classes I enjoyed the most were the English lessons. I’m sure that what I learnt will help me in the future.
Pierrine: The Juniors was a great experience. I really enjoyed learning things about the environment and how we can protect it. What I learnt at the Juniors will surely help me in the future, as I, for example, now know the importance of tree planting to preserve the environment and improve our lives. I also know now that we shouldn’t throw rubbish on the floor because it pollutes the village and the sea, but we should put it in a bin, to make the village cleaner and healthier. It harmonizes life.
Papy: I really enjoyed being part of the Juniors. What I liked the most was to learn about tree planting. People cut down the trees but when I will be old I will see the trees I planted. It’s important to plant trees because they give us oxygen to breathe and provide shade when it’s hot. My experience with the Juniors will help me later, to make compost for example if I want to grow beans.
Lodafara: I liked the Juniors and especially the cohesion in the group and the love we share between Juniors. I enjoyed the English classes the most. I think they are going to help me to speak with Anglophones and find a job in the future.
Merine: I loved the Juniors. I really liked to learn about the environment and especially everything that is marine-related. I know that it is important to protect the marine environment and keep the fishes healthy!
Friko: I liked the Juniors, particularly learning about the environment and coral reefs, because if people don’t know how important coral reefs are and destroy them, there will be no more food. Later if people continue to destroy the reef, I know why and how to protect it so there will still be fish.
A chapter is closing but another is starting with 20 bright new Juniors, who, we hope, will continue to be curious and interested to learn more about their environment and how to protect it, in order to become the conscious, aware and dedicated leaders of tomorrow.
Blog by RD Comms Officer Karin Moehler
Photo credit: Ivana Rubino & Karin Moehler