She is now planning a volunteer placement with Azafady, and selling crafts at local markets to raise money for the organization. Additionally, she provides funding for her friend Angelo’s children to attend school in Madagascar.
Can you tell us about your experiences traveling in Madagascar?
I am fortunate enough to have visited Madagascar several times. I fell in love with the country, the animals, and the people the first time I visited, and it captures a bit more of my heart every time I go. I have friends there now who have become family to me.
I first visited Madagascar in 2008 with my ex-partner who wanted to go and see the lemurs. We booked this trip with Rainbow tours in the UK. Our guide, Angelo, was a super chap and we become friends with him. When we returned in 2009, Angelo facilitated our visit, organised the whole trip for us and was our guide. Our friendship bond, I knew, was one which would remain a lifetime.
I went back to visit in 2013 – my 50th birthday year. It was during this trip that, on the visit to the family, I spoke with Angelo and his wife about providing some sponsorship to help the children go through school.
It really isn’t very much money to me, but it helps them, and I know that it will enable their children to receive an education which is so important to Angelo and his family. Angelo and his wife Hortensia have 3 children now – all girls. When they get to school age, I will provide the same sponsorship as I do for their eldest daughter Michella.
Later this year, I am doing a short volunteer placement with Azafady.
When I do my placement at the end of this year, I will be taking a week to visit my friends, and we are going to visit our favourite place – Le Palmarium. It really is something special, and is run by the most wonderful man Sylvian, who always makes his guests feel welcome, and the lemur experience you have there is second to none. The lemurs are not tame, but are used to humans and are extremely cheeky!! It is a peaceful place and can only be reached by boat.
Tell me a bit about your crafts, where you sell them, and how they help Azafady.
I fundraise for Azafady by making crafts and selling them at craft fairs in my local area. Each time I am raising awareness of Madagascar, and I am astounded when people say they thought it was only the name of a film!
I have followed Azafady since my first visit to Madagascar in 2008 when I wanted to help locate charities that work in Madagascar. It was in 2014 that I discovered that they not only did long term placements but short term placements too. Because I’m of an age where I can’t do a gap year due to my full time job, I decided that I would like to give back something to the country that always delights me when I visit, and applied to do a 2 week voluntary placement in a school, which I am doing in November this year.
For the placement I wanted to raise the donation and decided to try my hand at making greeting cards which I started to sell at local craft fairs. People seemed to like them so I expanded into upcycling vases and pots by painting them and then decoupaging them with napkins so that they look like they have been painted. People seem to like these too, and I now attend craft fairs in a wider area but still close to where I live in Somerset (UK).
I have been fundraising for Azafady for about a year now and have raised over £1,000 to date. I also dance, and recently organised a fund raising freestyle! It was great fun and raised an additional £400.
By selling my crafts I get the opportunity to tell people about Azafady and also Madagascar. Not many people know very much about this beautiful country and the amount of endangered animals Madagascar has, so hopefully my one-woman quest is raising awareness!
When is your next craft fair?
I have a Facebook page for my fund raising activities which is called Made for Madagascar – please pop onto the page and give it a like!!!