Wednesday, 11 April 2012

A Trustee's Eye View...

One of the unique aspects of Money for Madagascar is the depth and breadth of experience that our team of trustees bring with them to our work. Every one of them has either lived and worked in Madagascar or boasts extensive experience of development work, sustainable living, conservation, business or management. 
Trustee Mike Cherry

This practical experience, cultural awareness and love for the Red Island and its people is critical to identifying the right projects to support and ensuring that our donor’s money is spent safely and effectively.

Here trustee Mike Cherry talks about an inspirational visit he made to and MfM funded conservation project in the Betampona reserve:

"Ever since I was a child I had Gerald Durrell influenced visions of Madagascar as a tree covered island with Lemurs and Aye Ayes in the bushes and flocks of amazing birds and insects floating overhead.

So when I was invited to visit Money for Madagascar projects in the late 1990’s I jumped at the chance and had a fantastic few weeks visiting various projects and meeting a number of amazing people. One of the highlights was the time that I spent with Mahefa and his team who worked around the Betampona reserve.

While chatting with Mahefa on our first evening near the Betampona Reserve with the crickets chirruping and the fireflies flitting and a distant slash and burn fire making its way up a hillside, he asked me what I did for a living and I explained that I was as a tree preservation officer and that people could be fined up £20,000 for each tree that they destroyed in a British city.

Slash and burn agriculture is devastating forests
Mahefa laughed and said ‘Even if you threatened people with a Kalashnikov you would not be able to control tree destruction here’.  This made me feel rather pessimistic about the future of the reserve.
MfM Partner Mahefa tends a tree nursery

However, over the next couple of days spent with Mahefa and his team, the impact of their ability to engage with the farmers and involving them in new farming techniques proved to be a much more potent and inspirational weapon than a Kalashnikov. To counter forest destruction a number of the farmers were developing small tree nurseries.

After this experience, how could I resist becoming more involved with Money for Madagascar?"