On Wednesday 25th November, an eager audience at the Royal Geographical Society were taken on a tour of Madagascar. This was not an average tour but a blend of the beautiful and the beastly, fantasy and reality, and the good work going on to keep this wonderful country and its inhabitants better protected.
The main speakers of the event were Hilary Bradt, who wrote the first English-Language travel guide to Madagascar in 1986, and Irenee Rajaona-Horne, our very own director of Money for Madagascar.
Hilary Bradt has gathered the outlook of a complete expert over her many years travelling to Madagascar, and both her talk – and her slideshow – were utterly enticing. We were shown nature’s most bizarre works, from the twig-nosed snake to the fingernail-sized Brookelia Chameleon. A lovely reminder at the end was Hilary exclaiming “I came to Madagascar for the wildlife, but it was the people who took my heart”.
Now 1986 was a very good year, because it was also the birth year of Money for Madagascar – an organisation that has worked relentlessly for almost 30 years to help the people of Madagascar to enjoy better livelihoods through supporting local NGOs and their inspiring initiatives. Recognising the interconnectedness of all aspects of life, Irenee’s speech centered around how MfM has specialised in helping the most vulnerable (those living in biodiversity hotspots, isolated villages, and destitute children in cities) to work with the environment around them to achieve true sustainability and well-being. Indeed, she mentioned a study they conducted over three years with 49 Malagasy families, whereby on average those who had been involved with MfM had doubled their income over the time period. The message had been made clear by the participants themselves, she quoted: “the work of Money for Madagascar is essential”.