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Volunteer stories: Rachel's story

Rachel Bown – Assistant to the Director of Programmes and Operations

Rachel Bown with her Azafady colleagues

Photo of Rachel on her last day in the SEED Madagascar office.

Prior to joining the SEED Madagascar team in Madagascar I graduated University in the summer (2:1 from Portsmouth in International Development) and then worked various temporary jobs whilst living at home looking for my first overseas or London-based Development job.

I hoped to gain hands-on experience of Development projects and programmes to supplement my academic understanding; it is almost-impossible to get a job on the back of a development degree without overseas experience. I also realised it was an opportunity to live in a completely unique part of the world.

I gained all of the above and more. I learnt the real ebb and flow of life on the ground in an overseas organisation, the highs and lows. I learnt more about myself, as well as what I want from a career in Development. I gained friends and some of the happiest memories!

Nothing can understate the sheer beauty/paradise of Tolagnaro and Madagascar as a whole. Its honestly one of the world’s hidden gems. It was always so satisfying to see the impact of projects, and the well-deserved gratification when donors realise this and commit funding. My expose to the commitment and dedication of the local staff team was truly special – you realise your impact is temporary compared to their bottomless commitment. The lifestyle isn’t bad either – lunch on the beach, weekends on the beach, learning to surf, plenty of parties, cheap food and drink, road trips…..

After leaving Madagascar, I came back to the UK, lived at home, put money back in the bank and began the search for Development jobs in London. This took 6 months but eventually I landed a fantastic job in DFID working on Deployments of Experts to areas of conflict and instability in Africa. I couldn’t have landed this without SEED Madagascar on my CV and being able to talk about all the various experiences it gave me.