Go further in Madagascar

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Volunteer in Madagascar

Explore the heritage and habitat of one of the world’s remotest – and rarest – islands.

Teach, learn and live on the 8th continent – Madagascar. Known for its remote location, spice trade, beautiful beaches, and friendly people, volunteers who join us in Madagascar can expect to have an immersive cultural and adventure experience unlike any other available.

Positive<br/>impact

Positive
impact

Build a better world by contributing to vital, locally-led project work that strives for a more just and equitable future.
Ethical<br/>work

Ethical
work

In line with the UN’s SDGs, we are committed to ethical and sustainable engagement with our local partners and communities.
Beautiful<br/>community

Beautiful
community

Learn from the world’s most unique and significant cultures, in breathtaking remote locations.

Madagascar volunteer projects

Overview
Location
Programs
FAQs

Madagascar is an island country in the Indian Ocean, approximately 450 kilometres off the coast of East Africa across the Mozambique Channel. The main Malagasy island is the world’s fourth largest island – stretching more than 1,600 kilometres from the northern to southern tip – and is surrounded by peripheral islands. Madagascar has been geographically isolated for 88 million years, which is one of the key contributing factors to its amazing biodiversity, when it split from the Indian subcontinent and began to drift freely.

As a volunteer in Madagascar, you’ll be based at our brand new hub on the unique island of Nosy Be – pronounced NOSSY-BAY. If you love adventure, nature, travel and want to explore a habitat found nowhere else on earth, Madagascar is exactly where you want to be. Home to several species found nowhere else – including the famous lemur – and known for its remote location, spice trade, beautiful beaches and friendly people, volunteers who join us in Madagascar can expect to have an immersive cultural and adventure experience unlike any other. 

Our community development volunteer programs in Madagascar are focused on: 

 

Our local community partners in Madagascar are:

  • Maison Des Jeunes Community Centre and Youth Club 
  • Maradoka school
  • Ampasipohy school
  • Ampasipohy village 

Volunteer in Madagascar – our base on Nosy Be

Nosy Be is a volcanic island off Madagascar’s northwestern coast and is known as “the scented isle” because of the prevalence of the ylang-ylang tree and its fragrant flowers. Although the volcano has not erupted in recorded history, it is not considered extinct. The island has an estimated population of around 115,000 people, with the Sakalava people making up the majority of Malagasy residents and Sakalva Malagasy being the main dialect spoken on the island. 

As a volunteer in Madagascar, you’ll spend the majority of your time at our base right next to Lokobe National Park. Containing both marine and terrestrial areas, it’s home to an amazing diversity of species across a huge range of ecosystems. Many local communities and villages surround the park, and some of them have joined together to form their own locally managed area, with the aim of preserving some of the last remaining primary rainforests in the country. The park’s most common sighting is the black lemur, and it is very common to be hiking through the park and see a dozen or so lemurs passing through or relaxing in the trees above. You and your fellow volunteers in Madagascar can expect to see several rare species during your time on base, including: 

  • black lemurs
  • Hawks’ sportive lemurs
  • common bottlenose dolphins
  • panther chameleons
  • giant day geckos
  • green turtle
  • hawksbill turtles.

Volunteer in Madagascar – island adventures in Madagascar

When you’re not volunteering on community development projects or on base, the island offers a wide variety of adventures:

  • Eat and drink: Nosy Be’s capital, Hell-Ville, is full of many bars, restaurants, hotels and markets where volunteers can enjoy a drink and a meal. 
  • Cook: Learn to cook in Marodoka village, where members of the local women’s group host cooking classes focussed on traditional – and delicious – Malagas dishes.  
  • Forage: Head into the forests of Madagascar with a professional guide on a journey through the island’s traditional plant and herbal medicines.
  • Snorkel and swim: Hop over the neighbouring island of Nosy Tanikely and spend the day diving in the coral wonderlands of Madagascar’s marine protected area.

Volunteer in Madagascar – women’s empowerment 

Our women’s empowerment community development volunteer programs in Madagascar are focused in three areas:

Menstrual Health

Madagascar is still a highly patriarchal society with menstrual health and menstruation generally being seen as something to be shamed and hidden. Additionally, the high cost of disposable menstrual products and low average wages has led to menstruation and menstrual health becoming a source of stress as they may struggle to purchase the necessary products.

Volunteers in Madagascar will work to reduce this source of stress via the locally managed production of sanitary and reusable menstrual health kits. This will hopefully provide the initial investment and training to allow local women to produce these kits for a low cost. This will then allow them to be sold for a reasonable local price and hopefully bring affordable and sanitary menstrual care to many local women while providing a stable income stream for those involved in the production.

Textile Production

Many women in Nosy Be, and Madagascar as a whole, create their own clothes, which is often more economical than buying fast fashion items. 

Volunteers in Madagascar will assist a growing number of women involved in textile production to establish a small-scale operation to produce their high-quality, locally-made products and sell them both in the markets of Nosy Be and hopefully further afield. 

Coffee

Coffee is a significant part of Malagasy culture and Madagascar has a history as one of the biggest exporters of coffee on the planet. While export numbers have dropped in modern times, coffee still remains important to many people. Most coffee is produced by small-scale producers, often small family or single community operations, with women overseeing significant parts of the operation ranging from planting to harvesting to grinding and selling. 

Volunteers in Madagascar can help local, women-owned coffee producers in two ways:

  • Help establish a small coffee shop in the local village, which would be funded and run from the profits earned from volunteers and staff purchasing coffee. 
  • Help local merchants market and sell wholesale beans and ground coffee to tourists. 

 

Volunteer in Madagascar – Teaching English

As the number of English speaking tourists in Madagascar and especially in Nosy Be rises, the ability to speak English is becoming more and more valuable. English classes are provided to both school children and adults, with dedicated classes offered to local field guides. 

Community development volunteers in Madagascar will teach English in a variety of ways: 

  • Facilitate one-on-one or small group conversational classes in local villages and organisations across all age groups. 
  • Support local teachers and schools by preparing lessons and resources for various subjects and topics.
  • Assist the staff and rangers from Lokobe in learning English, with a focus on their work in the park. This is done in partnership with the management team at Madagascar National Parks. Being able to understand English helps access a wealth of online conservation-focused material and courses that are currently only available in English.

Who can volunteer in Madagascar? 

Anyone can! 

Whether you’re thinking of taking a gap year abroad, or want to contribute to community work while studying, looking for a career-making summer internship, or simply keen to take a career break and give back, our community development volunteer programs in Madagascar are right for you! 

For more information, enquire or apply

Who qualifies as a volunteer in Madagascar? 

Our Madagascar community development volunteer programs require that you be 18 years or older, but we do offer teen volunteer programs for 15 – 17 year olds in other amazing locations around the world! 

Is it safe?

Extremely safe. We take every precaution to make sure our participants can live and work safely, no matter where they are in the world. We have trained support staff on hand 24 hours a day to ensure that all participants across all our programs are well taken care of.

Read more about our health and safety protocols

You can speak directly to one of our enrolment officers or alumni, who can answer any and all questions you might have about life in Madagascar. 

Is volunteering in Madagascar ethical?

Across all our work, our actions are guided by local organisations with roots in the community – team members who are on the ground and monitor and maintain ethical standards and practises, in an ongoing effort to ensure our work remains inclusive and equitable. 

 

Who will I work with?

You will work alongside GVI volunteers of all ages, from all over the world. This is an opportunity to meet people from a range of backgrounds. Our international team of GVI staff will be at every location to guide volunteers throughout their time on our programs. On community-based projects, volunteers work closely with local community members.

I want to volunteer in Madagascar! What are the next steps? 

We’d love to have you! You can enquire or apply here. 

Join a community internship and get an exclusive offer

Book by 31 October 2022
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New and Exclusive: GVI Experiences

A locally curated selection of extra activities are now included across our programs.

Learn to cook Malagasy cuisine

Learn to cook Malagasy cuisine

Handcraft your own canoes

Handcraft your own canoes

Forage for local medicinal plants

Forage for local medicinal plants

Visit the island of the lemurs

Visit the island of the lemurs

Snorkel in a marine wonderland

Snorkel in a marine wonderland

Gaze and wonder at the southern constellations

Gaze and wonder at the southern constellations

Watch the sunset at Banyan tree

Watch the sunset at Banyan tree

Sleepover on a remote volcanic archipelago

Sleepover on a remote volcanic archipelago