In coastal communities in the southwest of 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 10 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.
The sun was setting over the hot bustling city of Toliara in southwest Madagascar as I took a cyclo-pousse to the area where the Blue Ventures scholars were living.
I arrived to see Narison waiting for me with a big smile of welcome on his face. Together, we went down a dusty road crowded with people before taking a small and quieter path between two large fences. Turning a corner I saw Lucia preparing dinner next to her hut, and I recognised other students from Andavadoaka village, where Blue Ventures’ education programme is based.
Angelot, who I had come to visit, is a very easy-going young man from Ampasilava, a village about 10km from Andavadoaka. He’s just about to begin his second year studying Biodiversity at the University of Toliara, and recently came to us asking for support in renting his own hut as somewhere more quiet to study. This is something we were very happy to help with, so I travelled to Toliara in order to discuss the details of this arrangement with Angelot, the family that he currently lives with, and the owner of the land.
This is not the first time that Angelot has been supported by the Blue Ventures scholarships programme. His father died when he was in primary school, leaving his mother and eldest sister to take care of him and his other eight siblings. Despite these hardships, Angelot continued to go to school, and in fact was a brilliant student. Blue Ventures financially supported him during his years in middle school, but he then unfortunately had to move to Morombe, 40km north of Andavadoaka, to seek medical treatments that weren’t available closer to home.
After finishing high school in Morombe, Angelot knew that he wanted to continue his education, but going to university was a big step.
We kept in touch during this time, and heard that he continued to be an exemplary young man, taking the time to help teach younger children maths and English, and becoming an active member of the Environmental Club in Morombe that helps to clean up the local market and beach.
After finishing high school in Morombe, Angelot knew that he wanted to continue his education, but going to university was a big step. He didn’t know anyone in Toliara, and he knew that any support Blue Ventures could give him would be small in comparison to the expenses of a big city. Despite the knowledge that it would be a daily struggle, he still resolved to go.
There is a well known Malagasy proverb “valala iray hifanapahana” which literally means “even a cricket can be shared.” It accurately describes the hospitality and generosity of Malagasy people, as a cricket is only something you’d be eating if you had very little else. Knowing this, Angelot left for Toliara with the hope that he would receive help from somewhere.
Sure enough, the relatives of one of his high school teachers has a patch of land in Toliara, and they agreed to give him shelter and food if he did household chores for them when he wasn’t in class. When I talked to this family they said that they had accepted his offer with pleasure, because they could see how motivated he was to study.
This was Angelot’s situation during his entire first year at university. He would study when in class, and then come home to help his host family in the evenings and at weekends.
“I’m doing as much as I can to help them because I want to express my gratitude for what they have done, and are still doing for me” he told me. “Through thick and thin, I will succeed. My whole family back home is relying on me and they believe in me!”
Now that he’s in his second year at university his workload will increase, but he is more motivated to succeed than ever. We wish him all the best in his studies, and hope his new hut will help him realise his potential!
Going to university is the greatest dream of students in the Velondriake area, but it’s also one of the hardest to achieve. There are currently 12 university students, including Angelot, that are being supported by our scholarships programme.
Unfortunately, we are currently only able to provide them limited support, which is not enough to cover all of the expenses of university where they are far away from their families and have to pay for food and rent.
Through your donations, we will be able to increase our support, helping the students with essential expenses and allowing them to continue their education.
With a donation of £20 per month or £250 per year, you can support a student at university for an entire year, allowing these students to realise their full potential and advance marine conservation within their communities.