17 students from St George's spent an eye-opening time in Madagascar on a World Challenge student trip
Photo: St George’s International School students
Students returned from an “eye-opening” mangrove conservation project in Madagascar with a newfound appreciation for the conveniences of Luxembourg.
The group of 17 students from St George’s International School, and a teacher spent 23 June to 13 July together, volunteering with Honko’s Mangrove Conservation project, as part of a World Challenge expedition.
The project protects and restores mangroves, considered the forests of the sea, which provide habitats for flora and fauna and also protect the land from coastal erosion and storm damage. Around 2% of the world's mangroves are found in Madagascar, a country which has lost 25% of this ecosystem since 1990, according to World Challenge.
“As a nature enthusiast being able to contribute to a project like Honko was a privilege. Laughing and working side by side with the locals fixing boards we’d previously gone through was one of the most rewarding jobs of the project,” 17-year-old Matteo Degregori wrote after the trip.
The group spent the first week travelling and getting acclimatised to the island, of which a quarter of its coastline is covered in mangroves. Then, the work began with the Belgian NGO, which works in partnership with coastal communities to help preserve the mangrove ecosystem, through awareness raising about sustainable practices.
Another highlight of the experience was watching whales off the Madagascar coast, during which the group saw three humpback whales. The group also trekked through the Ranomafana National Park, where they saw all the known species of lemur, Madagascar’s national animal.
“A week after having returned we all missed something about Madagascar, it was a truly eye-opening experience,” Degregori said, adding: “We really do take many things for granted and walking into a society that’s not indulged by all the luxury and commodities that Luxembourg has, really makes you appreciate everything a whole lot more.”
He urged anyone planning to make a similar trip to “just do it. I can promise you, you won’t regret it.”