One of the fastest ways to learn the importance of being prepared is by going to camp. Suddenly you find that you can't just go to the cupboard, or the closet, or even the store to get the thing you need. You need to plan ahead and pack what's necessary, but you also have to remember that what you bring, you'll need to carry. It's a difficult balancing act, and one that the participants of Madagascar 2012 have become very familiar with, but travelling to Madagascar requires a few things not normally found on a camping kit list. Here are some of the things it takes to get there and back again safe and sound:
Malaria is a common threat in Madagascar. This disease comes from mosquitoes and is just a whole lot of not-much-fun. There are three ways participants will avoid it: bug spray, anti-malaria medication and mosquito nets. These nets are essentially a big mesh bag that you suspend above where you'll be sleeping, then you set up your sleeping bag and matress inside the net. They keep the mosquitoes away all night long.
There will be a lot of jobs on the work site and it's important to make sure everyone stays safe. In addition to safety glasses, we'll also have steel-toed boots, work gloves, dust masks and a collection of hard hats that will be used when work is being done overhead.
Actually, two solar panels. The Contingent will bring two solar panels to Ambato Boeni this summer as a way to power the tools and lights necessary to complete the construction of the dormitories and campus walls. After the project is finished, these solar panels will remain on the campus as a way of providing a green alternative source of energey for the much-needed light, the third priority identified by Ambato Boeni in 2008.
Ambato Boeni is opening its doors for us. We are incredibly grateful for that. We will work together with the community for quite some time this summer, and we want to be able to show our appreciation for our hosts by bringing thank you gifts. It's no small task to accommodate so many Canadians at the same time, but the generosity of their time and space is what helps to make a project like this possible. In past projects, we've had framed pictures, books, stuffed animals for children, soccer balls, and all sorts of other things.
So, the next time you complain about having to pack extra socks, or a toque for a spring camp, just remember, at least you don't have to carry around a solar panel (or two)!