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Volunteer stories: Helena's story

Helena Shears – Conservation Volunteer

Helena spent a week at the London office assisting with our communications and general administration work.

Helena in the Azafady London officeBefore going away to Madagascar, the longest I had been away from my family was two weeks. On the plane I fretted and worried, but despite my nerves, I was absolutely buzzing with excitement. In Fort Dauphin we were met by the brilliant Tsina who introduced us to the staff and gave us a talk on everything from health and safety to respecting local culture.

There are three main surveys to carry out on the conservation scheme: lemur behaviour, lemur transects a herptofauna transects; the latter involved wading through a swamp and trying to catch frogs. Weirdly, I grew to love these! The challenge of catching and identifying amphibians or trying to find a gecko hiding in a fern was exhilarating.

But my favourite activity was Conservation Club, where volunteers teach children from 5 months old to 16 years. It was so satisfying when we managed to engage the children for the whole lesson and they’d leave with fresh knowledge in their heads.

When I think back to Madagascar, I think of all those friends I made who I’m still in contact with and of the lessons I learned. The occasions where you realise just how amazing this experience is will be countless beyond belief.