The 5th of December is International Volunteer day! We thought we would mark the occasion by posting the first in what will be a series of volunteer and intern blogs. In this blog, Saoirse Flood, who started volunteering for ReefDoctor in October, describes her experiences so far as a Research Assistant & Divemaster Intern.
My name is Saoirse Flood and I arrived in Madagascar seven weeks ago which Is still hard to believe – time has just flown by. I decided to become an Intern for ReefDoctor as I had just finished my masters in Environmental Science at Imperial College London and didn’t really know what to do next. I’m from Luxembourg and have spent the past five years studying abroad. I wanted to do something different, travel a bit and experience something new; I didn’t feel ready for a full time job yet. Plus I’d always been interested in conservation and diving so ReefDoctor just seemed to check all the boxes.
One thing that I find extremely refreshing about camp life is that every day is different. A typical week involves waking up at 5.30/6 am; you could be diving, cleaning coral, working on the artificial reef, mapping areas, conducting coral reef surveys or rowing out to help with seaweed aquaculture. The afternoons are filled with more dives or you could be learning marine science stuff, learning the local language or teaching English to local villagers. I am currently doing my PADI rescue course so I am learning all about CPR and other first aid measures. Then hopefully in a week or two I will start my Divemaster. You are kept quite busy but it’s a good busy. The evenings are then spent reading on the porch or going into Ifaty village for a nice cold beer and some local street food.
Life on camp is good. The conditions are basic but you quickly get used to everything. There’s a good group of people here too – of all ages and from all different backgrounds. Everybody is extremely motivated and passionate about their work. Madagascar is a beautiful country but it is still facing many issues such as poverty, a poor education system, deforestation and overfishing, to name but a few. Life here is a stark contrast to the life that I am used to at home as Ifaty is one of the poorest regions in Madagascar. I am convinced that the 6 months here will teach me a lot: it will deepen my knowledge of conservation issues, provide me with a valuable insight into how NGOs work and what it is like working for them as well as provide me with practical experience. However, I also think that it will help me develop as a person. I think it will make me more conscious of my actions and teach me to appreciate things more. So all in all, I think my 6 months here will be extremely valuable.
I hope that this post was able to provide you with some insight as to what Interning for ReefDoctor is like. I plan to post something each week in order to give you guys an idea of what interns do. Hope you enjoyed the post!