The mid-point of my time arrived and formed a strong, mixed feeling in my heart of sadness and immense happiness. The sadness would be better described as a melancholic thought of only having half of the time left (three weeks) in this beautiful island. The happiness is pure and satisfactory from all the accomplishments, personal and professional, I have achieved so far.
I would struggle to describe the emotions I have been through these three weeks, but I’ll try my best in explaining. All other long-haul flyers to Madagascar could agree with me on the daunting feeling of getting of the plane (feeling quite sticky by the end of the journey) and stepping out into the incredibly hot, humid and very green Nosy-Be Airport. After bouncing from police to police to eventually getting my tourist visa and collecting my luggage, the continues and ceaselessly dripping sweat begins. Loaded and sweaty I step out to Malagasy smiles, already feeling at home. Then there she is, Bethany, the most Gasy white I will ever meet saying “You must be Anna” as if we have already met.
In this very warm and friendly environment, I learn my new favourite motto “Mora mora”, as Bethany takes me to my new home. Everything I need gets sorted without me even realising. I meet the rest of my new family: sweet and massively supportive Alex and new college volunteer Julia. Within less than 5 hours in this country and Alex, with her enthusiasm in teaching has already convinced me to stand in front of a classroom full of Malagasy adolescents who are eager to simply learn more and more and teach English. These adolescents don’t only listen quietly and respectfully for over an hour-and-a-half, but when the class is finished, they are keen to keep practicing their English with the new teacher arrives.
Before going to sleep that first night I ask myself: If all this has happened in one day, what more should I expect?
It only gets better when we visit Stella Maria and get another hit of reality (which has become my favourite professional interest so far). As a physiotherapist, it is the first time in my career I have worked with children who have lower limb deformities. Due to the lack of resources and support available in Madagascar, these children are not given sufficient rehab after their orthopaedic operations to speed up the healing and ensure a proper recovery. In Stella Maria, I have been able to establish some initiatives to increase these children’s physical activity and set rehab goals and therapy plans for those in need. Thanks to Alex and Bethany, I have the freedom work as a physiotherapist and, at the same time, enjoy time with the ‘Stella Angels’.
Last but not least, the experience of the doctor’s surgery has been fantastic, as I am able to assist Dr Adamo as he reviews his patients. Dr Adamo’s surgery is a general practice where he will examine and diagnose any patient who comes through his door. Once again, I am learning more and more about the most common injuries, illnesses and cultural tendencies which are exclusive of Nosy-be. I am settling into a weekly routine by going to the Doctors surgery in the morning, physiotherapy on the beach in the afternoon and teaching English in the evening. Without even realising, three weeks have passed, and I could not feel more at home.
To top it all off, I celebrated my birthday in an island paradise with the most welcoming people, who gave me an overwhelming feeling of happiness and belonging. I hope the next three weeks are just as amazing!