Pilot Review

By Alex Sanderson

Finally we are back in Bristol and starting another year at university.

It's been a month since we left Madagascar. You might want to know what we have got up to since our last blog post?

Well, we left our last blog post with the hope that villagers would turn up to our workshops and learn how to make buoyancy vests. And yes, they did! We ran 2 workshops with about 30 people attending between them. 

The first workshop was in Ambalahonko. A mix of women and men turned up to make buoyancy vests, bring their own materials. We spent roughly two hours with them and, with the help of our translator Francis, helped them to make their own buoyancy vests. To our surprise, they all found it pretty easy. All of our attendees went home happy, telling us that they would teach their families and friends. 


Our second workshop was in Ampasamandoro. We got off to a rocky start with this village, with two failed workshops due to misunderstandings about time and date. However, we were eventually successful. We had roughly 15 women (no men this time) come to meet us. Unfortunately Amapsamandoro, in general, is a lot poorer than the other fishing village. As a result, they were unable to bring their own materials. We were forewarned of this, and turned up with enough materials for two buoyancy vests. We split the women into two groups and let them work together on creating a vest. This way, they would all learn and be able to make a buoyancy vest when they could gather the materials. 

Excitingly, at our second workshops we trialled instruction manuals. These were in the form of leaflets and included instruction diagrams and simple written instruction in the local language. We decided to try these out in order to test whether a leaflet was sufficient alone to teach someone how to make a buoyancy vest. The response of the women was great. They were able to easily follow the steps on the leaflet and only required minimal guidance. By the end of the workshop we had gathered quite a crowd, generating more interest in the buoyancy vests. 

We left Maintirano feeling extremely happy, pleased with the success of the work we undertook and the foundations we have laid. Overall, the project was a great success. What's more, we achieved this with very few hurdles. We returned to the UK with optimism, filled with plans for the future. 

We have big plans for the coming months, so stay tuned! But first things first: new team members. Introductions coming soon. 

P.s. Check out this little video about our trip: 




Alex Sanderson