By George ‘Bic’ Manahira
Exciting times here in south west Madagascar as Blue Ventures make preparations for a new project working with local kids – the Junior Reporters Club (JRC).
In the village of Andavadoaka, there are a lot of young children, often lacking in environmental awareness. They do not always realise the influence their lifestyle can have on the ocean. For example; discarded fishing nets, plastic rubbish and empty cans are found on shore every day and we want them to realise that all this garbage lying around on beaches does a lot of damage to marine habitats and species. We want to teach them how to live here in a responsible way, by demonstrating to them how to take care of the ocean, how to take care of the forests and therefore how to take care of the environment.
This irresponsible pollution is why we have to make sure that the people living in Madagascar are more aware of the consequences of their lifestyle. This message is particularly directed to the younger generation because they are the ones most able to make a change. They are the ones who need to look ahead into the future of their country so they must be the ones to make sure that they have a brighter future ahead of them than is predicted now. If nothing changes, damages to the ecosystem will increase tenfold and severely threaten their livelihoods.
Fortunately we are not alone in our mission. UNICEF is supporting a Junior Reporters Club (JRC) initiative in 4 regions of Madagascar. Andavadoaka and the villages of Velondriake are amongst the areas selected for this support. I attended a training workshop last month on the JRC where we explored the methodology used to encourage the children to teach each other. For me, that’s the really exciting part; that we will involve all the youngsters participating to help us spread the conservation message. We will use a variety of teaching methods and encourage the Malagasy youth to interview each other and kids from other villages, and to create powerpoint presentations which will be shown in the villages, made by the kids themselves.
We wish to spread the message not only that you shouldn’t throw any garbage on the ground but why they shouldn’t, the more they comprehend the more they will care and eventually start teaching other kids, or adults for that matter. These junior reporters will be taught how to use computers to document work and travel to other villages to teach others so the project will not only be concentrated in Andavadoaka, spreading the conservation message far and wide. With the new Junior Reporters Club, we hope to provide the next Malagasy generation with a cleaner coastline, cleaner land and with all the knowledge we can give them, a cleaner future.