GoAbroad Interview

Chris Sainsbury - Madagascar Project Manager

Chris Sainsbury - Madagascar Project Manager

Chris Sainsbury has the experiential, local, and scientific knowledge and background to help participants have the most fulfilling experiences with Frontier in Madagascar. With programs ranging from teaching to marine conservation, Chris deals with a range of programs and participants from all over the globe. As Project Manager for all Frontier projects in Madagascar, Chris hopes all participants will arrive with energy and an open mind so they can make the biggest impact during their volunteer program.

Diving in Madagascar
Diving in Madagascar. Photo credit to Frontier

What inspired you to join Frontier?

I have always had a strong passion and background within scientific research, wild animal biology, and veterinary science, combined with experience working within community development and foreign language tuition. Hence, I am a keen supporter of what Frontier promotes due to our involvement in these fields.

What does your position with Frontier entail?

I am the Project Manager of the Madagascar field projects based out of Nosy Be, in northern Madagascar.

Why do you think participants choose to participate in Frontier programs in Madagascar?

I would suggest this is due to the local impact, which is made on all levels through working with the local communities on the island to improving the knowledge of the regional biodiversity, and the impact true conservation methods can have in a challenging setting. 

How many participants join Frontier in Madagascar each year? Where are most volunteers from?

Our volunteer numbers have been rapidly increasing every year, since Frontier started programs in Madagascar over six years ago.  We have a great mix of volunteers from Europe, North America and Australasia, as well as from Asia and South Africa.

What does a typical volunteer orientation include?

All of our volunteers are immediately thrown into the action with a large tour of the local area, instructed on health and safety practices, and all kinds of medical problems which can occur. From there they are taken for introductory surveys/community project work and informed about all they need to know as quickly as possible.

Do you accept participants who have no prior experience volunteering abroad and working in a particular field?

Absolutely, part of the enjoyment of these projects is seeing individuals develop within their chosen field.

What essential things must a participant bring to Madagascar?

This varies depending upon project, with specific SCUBA gear for the marine conservation work to a seriously good pair of boots for the terrestrial work!

Safety is a common concern in the industry. How do you ensure the safety of your participants?

All of our staff are suitably trained to help and work in all areas and to act if needed. We educate our volunteers on all aspects of local health and safety and ensure they know how to react if required. Our staff are excellent and safety is paramount.

What advice can you share to would-be participants of Frontier programs in Madagascar?

To come to Madagascar is a privilege that many do not ever achieve in their lifetime. Take part whole-heartedly and never regret a thing.

What are the goals for Frontier’s Madagascar programs in the next few years?

We intend to develop our community outreach work to expand further into the local area, involving high profile collaborative projects with the local groups. Our scientific research will continue to push on and we will continue to produce important scientific research papers which expand the wider knowledge on the local biodiversity.