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Madagascar Beach Conservation
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Madagascar Beach Conservation

Overall Rating

3/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    3

  • Program Administration

    4

  • Living Situation

    2

  • Community Engagement

    2

  • Health & Safety

    3

  • Day to Day Life

    3

Spend Your Money On Something Else

Madagaskar as I imagent was supposed to be a great and wonderful experience. And sadly I was wrong. All of the frontier papers and information we got from them was not updated or right. The emergency contact numbers was invalid. They forgot to show up at the airport and book the hotel for us. When we finally arrived to the camp we did not know who was the coordinators and who was the volunteers. Most of the coordinators did not speak to us, ignored us and only talked to us if it was necessary. I did not feel respected or that they took me serious. There was no coordinator for Beach Conservation. The only thing on the program the first week was picking up trash and trow it a way. I know this is a poor country and that they don't every resource to do with they're trash but we were here to learn about the eco system and trying to save it. One of the worst things you can do is to burn plastic, batteries and metal but they did not seam to care. Otherwise we had to be with Marine or Forest. In total we had something to do for about 2 hours a day. The program you get each day the coordinators don't follow it on time or just cancel the task. I been traveling for a long time and been to other programs as a volunteer so I expected to work a lot more. We worked for 7/8 hours a day. I also never experienced that bad coordinators as here. Maybe this is because the volunteers becomes a coordinator if they stay there for an amount of time. They don't fit the job they get and do not accomplish the task of being a coordinator. You should expect rats and mouses in the place that you sleep in. You also sleep on the floor and when it rains you can be sure to get wet because of the construction of the cabin your sleeping in. The water you drink is from a tap with bleach that do not kill all of the bacteria. Its a good chance you'll get sick. From the tap water with bleach I got Giardiasis. From being there I got 2 types of typhoid. Was not only me but in total 4 as I know of had typhoid at the same time. I was sick for more than 2 weeks but the coordinators did not seam to care or belive me. At that time it accrued that it was normal to be sick and it was not a big deal. It also felt like no one wanted to come to the hospital when I was going there. One of the coordinators had plans to go with me but she decided to do resupply instead of going to the hospital with me. The main leader on fores got ask by Celine if she could join me but she could not even though she had no plans for the day. It ended with the resupply girl that she was going with me but later so I had to spend the night in town. Some of the coordinators talk trash about the volunteers to other volunteers which I find disrespectful. The coordinators has a lot to do and improve as well as taking responsibility before this project is going to get better. It feels like a high school and a lot of the people spread rumors and trash talked other people. The toilet situation is not the best either. It is a hole in the ground that they burn up once in a while. Its not a great experience too get sick there. It destroyed my experience as the coordinators did. Buy a lot of bottle water and drink that, do not drink the water they give you with chlorine!! You'll definitely get diaria and more. The highlites of this was going in to town and help the community project. Although it was not how I expected to end my stay in Madagascar. If you are clever find something else to do. Take a roadtrip yourself to see the country because its beautiful and you'll save your money and a bad experience. I really hope they get themselves together or that the company will clean up in this mess. Or else they should just remove the project Beach Conservation.

  • Frontier responded to this review January 15, 2018 at 5:28 AM

    The Team at Frontier are disappointed to hear about the negative review and that this volunteer felt let down by the project. Unfortunately we have to disagree with all of the points Chris has made, sometimes volunteers are not suited to the type of work we do!

    Beach cleans are core parts of our beach conservation programme and should not be referred to as simply ‘picking up trash and throwing it away’. As with all of our conservation projects, the longer a volunteer stays and the more time and effort that is put into species learning early on, the more productive they can be on project, taking part in mangrove nursery tending, bird surveying, lesson planning and teaching (depending on partner timetables during stay), training lectures lead by our staff, species identification learning and (once species have been learnt) snorkel surveys.

    The number and intensity of activities undertaken in a day or in a week is arranged by the heads of research with our conservation aims in mind, but also the health and wellbeing of our staff and volunteers. For example, we work in a hot climate, so we try to avoid engaging in physically demanding activities during the midday heat. When particular staff or volunteers feel that they personally are able to take on more activities, and this is fed back to project leaders, more activities are scheduled.

    It is unfortunate that the volunteer below got Typhoid during your trip. Typhoid cases are common occurrence in developing countries like Madagascar but very rare amongst our staff and volunteers. This is because Frontier has numerous guidelines in place, which are down to the volunteers to follow and adhere too. Sometimes contexts like Madagascar feature a steep learning curve for those unfamiliar with field life in less advanced nations, the vast majority of volunteers are more than happy with camp life, at Frontier we like to get our hands dirty!
    As for the disposal of waste, unfortunately there is no infrastructure in place for waste disposal in the rural village where our camp is based, and there is very little in place on the island of Nosy Be as a whole. The options for waste disposal are burning or transporting to town for landfill. On balance, we have taken the view that, where possible, burning is preferable over landfill. We send metal to town for landfill and batteries home with volunteers. We are currently considering whether it might be possible to bag up and send home more of our plastic waste with volunteers in future to reduce our footprint (watch this space)! We are also trying to educate local communities on the benefits of environmentally friendly waste management techniques where possible.

    We regret that this volunteer did not feel welcomed by staff as we really do our best to make everyone feel welcome and comfortable from the outset. Introductory project presentations introduce all of the staff members by picture and name but there can be a lot to take in in the first few days, so staff are resolved to do their best to re-introduce themselves better in future!

Overall Rating

5/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    4

  • Program Administration

    4

  • Living Situation

    4

  • Community Engagement

    8

  • Health & Safety

    6

  • Day to Day Life

    4

A great place, but expected more

I have very mixed feelings about my time doing the Beach Conservation project. The camp we live on is a great place, and we live the proper simple beach life when it comes to living conditions. The project itself however, I expected more from. We mainly did beach cleans (which lasted normally no more than 30min) and mangrove mapping (around 30min as well) and that was it for the beach conservationists to do for the day. What also surprised me is what happens to the garbage we find on the beach. We dumped everything in a big burning pit (plastic included) in the back of the camp, which to me is only moving the problem to another state/place and not taking care of the problem. It was also confusing to understand who were staff and volunteers at the project. I didn’t feel like the staff were taking care of us, and they did not make me feel welcome when I and other volunteers arrived, which should be a big part of their job. I also feel like I paid a lot of money to chill out all day, and not feeling like I make any difference at all. That was not what I came here for, and I probably won’t recommend this project any further.

  • Frontier responded to this review December 14, 2017 at 5:27 AM

    We at Frontier Madagascar are very happy that this volunteer enjoyed our camp and our beautiful location, but disappointed to hear the mixed views about some of the other aspects of our beach conservation project.

    As mentioned, beach cleans and mangrove mapping form core parts of our beach conservation programme. Additionally, beach conservation volunteers take part in mangrove nursery tending, bird surveying, lesson planning and teaching (depending on partner timetables during stay), training lectures lead by our staff, species identification learning and (once species have been learnt) snorkel surveys. As with all of our conservation projects, the longer a volunteer stays and the more time and effort that is put into species learning early on, the more productive that volunteers can be on project.

    The number and intensity of activities undertaken in a day or in a week is arranged by the heads of research with our conservation aims in mind, but also the health and wellbeing of our staff and volunteers. For example, we work in a hot climate, so we try to avoid engaging in physically demanding activities during the midday heat. When particular staff or volunteers feel that they personally are able to take on more activities, and this is fed back to project leaders, more activities are scheduled, as was in fact the case with this volunteer.

    As for the disposal of waste, unfortunately there is no infrastructure in place for waste disposal in the rural village where our camp is based and there is very little in place on the island of Nosy Be as a whole. The options for waste disposal are burning or transporting to town for landfill. On balance, we have taken the view that where possible burning is preferable over landfill. We send metal to town for landfill and batteries home with volunteers. We are currently considering whether it might be possible to bag up and send home more of our plastic waste with volunteers in future to reduce our footprint (watch this space!)

    We particularly regret that this volunteer did not feel welcomed by staff as we really do our best to make everyone feel welcome and comfortable from the outset. Introductory project presentations introduce all of the staff members by picture and name but there can be a lot to take in in the first few days, so staff are resolved to do their best to re-introduce themselves better in future!

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Day to Day Life

    8

  • Health & Safety

    7

  • Community Engagement

    8

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Volunteer Placement

    7

A journey for life

This was a life changing trip for me. I love the camp and to live next to the nature and experience another "World". The project was good! I Loved all the people on camp and all the trips we did. I will definitely do something like this again in the future!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    9

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Day to Day Life

    10

An amazing experience

This was definitely a trip of a life time! I loved everything about it. Camp life was way better then the field brief made it out to be. I really enjoyed working and feeling that we actually made some difference, for example we did beach cleans, planted a lot of mangrove trees, taught English to the locals and did different surveys. It was an amazing experience and I recommend it to any one who's thinking about going!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    N/A

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Beach conservation placement

I loved the camp, exceeded all expectations described on the field brief. The best aspect was the community at camp, the surroundings, the noticeable impact of the work e.g. beach cleans and lessons to tour guides.