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Volunteer stories: Jo's story

Jo Coxall – Project Development Intern / Project Development Specialist

Jo Coxall with Malagasy child

I worked for SEED Madagascar initially as a Project Development intern and later as a Project Development Specialist. I really can’t stress enough how invaluable the experience was for both my personal and professional development. Prior to working for SEED Madagascar I worked as an English teacher in both the UK and Vietnam and while I enjoyed the work I wanted to fulfill my desire of working within the field of International Development. However, getting you foot in the door and gaining that all important initial experience, particularly in a developing country, is no small order and thankfully SEED Madagascar’s project development internship gave me that opportunity.

Working for a small organisation I was able to get involved in all areas of the project cycle, from funding, to project strategy to monitoring and evaluation and to do this across a variety of projects. I was also given a high level of flexibility over my duties, allowing me to choose the areas I was most interested in, and, as a result, I was able to focus on SEED Madagascar’s educational programmes, which involved conducting an advocacy based research project, developing SEED Madagascar’s approach to education, liaising with educational stakeholders and of course raising those all important funds. I was also able to get involved in video production, a personal hobby of mine, and put it to good use through promotional videos. One of the most unique and interesting aspects of my role was having numerous opportunities to visit rural villages where we had projects running to see what our local agents were doing, speak to project beneficiaries and conduct research. Some of these villages were so remote they were only accessible by boat and foot and hadn’t been visited by a foreigner for at least 5 years! These are experiences I will never forget.

After working for SEED Madagascar I felt it necessary to place my practical experience into a wider theoretical context, and therefore, studied a Masters in International Education and Development at the University of Sussex. I now work as a programme funding officer for the Africa Educational Trust, and there is no doubt that I wouldn’t have been offered this role and be able to fulfill it if it wasn’t for the technical fundraising and project development skills and experience acquired during my time at SEED Madagascar. If you are looking to develop your skills and experience within a development context and live in a stunning, culturally rich and easy going place and in a well supported work environment, I would strongly recommend SEED Madagascar’s project development internship and specialist positions.