In coastal communities in southwest Madagascar only one in three children go to school, and most do not make it beyond primary level. Our education programme has been supporting young people in the Velondriake area for over ten years, and to mark this achievement we’re releasing a series of student profiles. Each profile will share the inspiring story of a student who has benefitted from the financial support of a Blue Ventures scholarship.
A typical day for E-louise has an early start. She helps her mother out with the household chores and preparing lunch for the family before heading off for work at the Blue Ventures Education Centre. She returns home at midday in time to meet her father and older brothers as they arrive with their catch from fishing overnight.
E-louise has five siblings. Her younger brother and sister are still studying at Sainte-Famille school in Andavadoaka whereas her three older brothers have all left school to become full-time fishermen.
When her father and older brothers arrive home, E-louise, helped by her younger brother and sister, separates the fish depending on whether they’re to be sold or eaten. Usually the largest fish are sold, providing the money to buy rice and cooking oil, and the remaining fish are scaled and gutted before being fried, smoked or cooked depending on the family’s preference that day.
After lunch, she once again grabs her pen and notebook and makes her way to the Education Centre, reminding the girls she sees on the way that it’s nearly time for Girls Club.
During her high school years, E-louise lived in Morombe, a village 40 km from Andavadoaka, where she spent two years as president of the Girls Club and as vice president of the Environmental Club. These two positions taught her a lot about leadership, and gave her experience in organising, planning and implementing group projects.
These skills have served her well in her role with Blue Ventures in Andavadoaka, where she’s involved in leading a variety of afternoon and evening activities, including Saturday School, the Swimming Club, and of course the Girls Club.
“I never thought I would be leading Girls Club again and especially not from within the education programme!” E-louise tells me one day in the Blue Ventures’ office. “This is such a great experience for me. I used to be very shy, and I probably still am deep down, but leading something so important to me has made me more confident and courageous.”
E-louise meets with the Girls Club committee every Monday after class to prepare for the next session, helping to nurture in them the same confidence and communication abilities that her leadership positions have brought to her.
Over last summer, Blue Ventures sent E-louise to a two-month training camp in Fianarantsoa with Projet Jeune Leader, where she was able to strengthen her understanding of sexual and reproductive health, puberty, and youth leadership. Since then she’s been integrating these topics into her work with Blue Ventures, introducing fun and innovative ways of learning about sexual and reproductive health to the clubs that she leads.
She also played an active role in the integrated Village Outreach Tour in the autumn, an initiative that helps bring health messages to remote and isolated communities in the Velondriake area.
E-louise would like to become a midwife someday, but she has a little sister and brother to take care of and can’t afford to pursue that path at this stage. We’re thrilled to have her with us in the education programme team, and are so proud of everything she’s achieved so far!
E-louise is just one example of over 500 former Blue Ventures scholarship beneficiaries, but there are many more young people in the Velondriake area who are financially unable to continue their education.
An education provides these young people with future livelihood alternatives beyond fishing, and the majority of students wish to use the skills and knowledge they’ve acquired through years of study to give back to the communities that have done so much for them.
With a donation of £5 per month or £50 per year, you can support a high school student for an entire year, allowing them to realise their full potential and advance marine conservation within their communities.