December 8, 2012 marked International Volunteer Day (it feels like just about everything has their own day to celebrate). However, Volunteer Day is obviously near and dear to PCVs’ hearts. After all, we are giving up 2 years of family, friends, constant internet, unlimited texting, first world luxuries, and most importantly Taco Bell (sorry had to put that plug in there of my favorite fast food). The two main cities of Antananarivo and Fianarantsoa hosted events for IVD; I helped plan Fianar’s festivities with my PCVL Sally. We visited the City Hall and got permission to paint a mural on the side of a CEG (Elementary school) in Fianar near the market promoting environment protection focusing on the National Parks in our area. We visited nearly every non-profit organization and asked for assistance with a morning trash clean up.
The day of the event, Sally and I were both concerned things were going to go terribly wrong. Things in this country NEVER go as planned; something always comes up or something always happens. The event was scheduled to start at 8am, but Malagasy lifestyle, people started showing up around 845. We were content with the turn out until we turned around and we just saw a mob of school children coming our way, rakes, brooms, and shovels in hand. The CEG decided if we were going to paint a mural on their wall, they were going to have their children participate with the clean up.
News reporters and radio hosts turned up for the event and Peace Corps and Tea and Talk (the incredibly talented, smart, and mahay speaking University students) got some great publicity. We drew a crowd of curious passerbys who were interested in Environment protection and conservation, WINNING! And we had many ask if they could assist with the clean up and the mural because they actually wanted to help. DOUBLE WINNING!
(it reads “A clean village, a healthy environment”)
The mural is still not quite complete, we hope to finish it in the New Year, but with Volunteers and Malagasy students going on vacation and the holidays, we knew we would have to put the finishing touches on hold. I hope we can continue the interest in keeping the town clean and keeping the environment safe. And I hope that I can continue with the tradition and put on an event next year when I’ll be the zoky volunteer in the region.