Island Outreach Assistants

Agency
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founded in 2013
Bianca
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Coordinator | Bianca
Coordinator | Bianca
Book with Flex Option! Choose new departure dates or change to a different volunteer program at no extra costs.
MRCI’s Island Outreach program has volunteers visiting several remote islands undertaking various initiatives such as teaching, construction and scientific research This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Age 18+
Singles
Couples
Groups
50+
Island Outreach Program: 

Volunteers can now enjoy even more of what Madagascar has to offer by signing up to join us on our new research vessel, the Spirit of Malala.  In an effort to extend MRCI’s community and conservation reach beyond Nosy Be and Nosy Komba, volunteers are transported aboard the vessel the Spirit of Malala, spending 7 days visiting several of Madagascar’s remote islands and villages. Through MRCI’s Island Outreach program volunteers will be involved in a range of initiatives such as teaching, small construction projects and scientific research.

Volunteers provide the ‘survey-power’ required to carry out dolphin and whale watching from the boat, as well as twice daily bird and turtle watches. In addition, they carry out species accumulation surveys during forest hikes and snorkelling activities. To assist the local community, the volunteers participate in battery collections, beach cleans and village cleans. They also assist where needed giving lessons in the local school in Baramahamay and deliver supplies, including clothes and medical supplies. During every day of the volunteers are able to experience remote and secluded parts of the north mainland and surrounding islands. The volunteers are part of a bigger picture as each boat trip adds to the increasing contribution made to the local community. 

Many of these island communities in Madagascar have very limited basic resources.  MRCI’s Outreach Program aims to assist these local communities not only with access to education and resources, but with basic first aid assistance as well.  We will have a local doctor on board and volunteers whom volunteers may choose to assist in administering basic healthcare.

Contributions in the form of donations can be made such as much needed medical supplies, a list of which is available below.

Donations (Optional)

We encourage our volunteers to bring along items that they can donate. These items are difficult for people in remote areas to access and we will distribute them during the Island Outreach Program

  • Books: for children and adults, written in English. These can be from any genre.
  • School Supplies: including pens (ballpoint and coloured); pencils (led and coloured); writing books; erasers; chalk (white and coloured); whiteboard markers; stickers; small prizes (balloons, toys, etc.).
  • Medical Supplies: such as bandages; Band-Aids/plasters; triangle bandages; medical gloves; antiseptic/iodine; gauze; hand sanitizer; tooth brushes; toothpaste; Q-tips, cotton-wool balls; tweezers; small scissors; eye-wash; alcohol wipes; medical tape; wound dressings; burn gel.
  • Balls: for sports such as basketballs, soccer balls and footballs. They can be deflated – we will pump them up once they are here!
Volunteers will visit the local schools and hand out donations of essential school supplies and sporting equipment as well as giving impromptu English lessons. They will also assist our forest and marine programs by participating in forest walks and snorkel surveys to identify changes in habitats and species populations. You can enjoy your free time by exploring the tropical islands, snorkelling in the turquoise waters or by joining in on a fun game of beach soccer with the village children.

Island Outreach Itinerary

Day 1: Nosy Be → Mamoko

  • Visit CNRO Hellville, Nosy Be
  • Travel from Nosy Be to Mamoko (3-4 hours)
  • Camp overnight in Mamoko

Volunteers start the program by meeting at the Oasis Coffee shop at 9 am on the Monday morning. Once the group has gathered, transport will take volunteers to the Centre National de Recherches Océanographiques (the Oceanographic Research Institute of Madagascar) in Nosy Be, where volunteers will receive a short introduction to marine conservation by one of the institutes leading Malagasy marine researchers. This is followed by a fascinating tour of the marine museum, which has a large collection of specimens covering all aspects of marine life and its evolution in Madagascar.

Thereafter volunteers head to the port to join Spirit of Malala around noon. Shortly after arriving on board volunteers will receive a safety briefing and local lunch. After lunch the boat will head to the first of the stopover points.

Time to destination The journey usually takes around 3 hours. 

Day 2: Nosy Mamoko Island 

  • Waterfall Hike and Snorkeling
  • See lemurs, tortoises, small baobab in Mamoko
  • Participate in battery collection and village clean in Mamoko
  • Camp overnight at Mamoko 
Nosy Mamoko Island - This island is at the southwest end of Ampasindava Bay.  The small, unspoiled forest ends in sandy white beaches with excellent opportunities for swimming and snorkelling in the bay to explore the delicate coral reefs. This traditional island still has a Queen as head of their population (which includes a troop of lemurs living among the villagers and a 100 year old tortoise).

Activities Volunteers undertake a number of activities for the 2-day stay - included is: Construction projects, beach clean-ups, snorkelling for plastic waste, English classes, cultural interaction with the islanders.

Leisure activities include a visit to the waterfall, swimming.

Accommodation is in tents situated under a grass canopy on the beach. 

Duration of stay 2 nights

Time to next destination 3 hours 

Day 3-5: Ampoagna

  • Meet Community Development volunteers
  • Help with construction projects
  • Participate in beach clean-ups
  • Teach English
  • Stay overnight

Ampoagna is a small village located on a pristine long white sand beach flanked by tall pine and coconut trees. The beach is a favourite for nesting turtles.

Activities Volunteers will assist with the construction of the new school by making bricks and helping with general construction. Previous volunteers have already successfully constructed a clinic and water well. Volunteers also teach English to local children and conduct beach clean-ups.

Leisure activities includes swimming and playing soccer with the villagers.

Accommodation is in beach houses with modern local bathrooms

Duration of stay 3 nights

Time to next destination 1,5 hours

Day 6: Ampoagna → Russian Bay 

  • Forest Hike over the hill at Fish Eagle Beach
  • Camp overnight at Russian Bay
  • Beach bonfire
Russian Bay - The name of this fascinating area dates back to the Russo-Japanese war of 1905, when a Russian warship anchored in the bay.  Instead of attacking passing Japanese ships, the crew enjoyed Madagascar so much, they decided not to wage war or to return to Russian. The ship was kept hidden, but emerged twice to trade with pirate vessels from the Mozambique Channel.  It finally sank years after running out of fuel. The last of these Russian sailors died in 1936 and their graves can still be visited today. The spectacular marine life in the bay offers superb snorkelling and diving. Whales and whale sharks are common in the bay from October to December and there is an abundance of lemurs, bird life and reptiles in the tropical forest with a choice of hiking trails.

Activities Volunteers mainly focus on beach clean-ups and plastic remove from the many inlets and hidden beaches and bays.  

Leisure activities include beach bonfire on the last night, swimming, forest walk.

Accommodation is in tents on the beach.   

Duration of stay 1 night

Time to next destination 3,5 hours 

Day 7: Russian Bay → Tanikely → Nosy Be

  • Travel to Tanikely
  • Hike to the Lighthouse
  • See bats and snorkel in Tanikely before heading back to the Hellville
  • Travel back to Nosy Be
Nosy Tanikely - Nosy Tanikely draws both bird enthusiasts and snorkelers alike. The crystal clear waters are perfect for viewing the amazing variety of marine life. At low tide, one can walk all the way around the island, during which you may spot lemurs, flying foxes and white-tailed tropical birds.

Time to Hellville 1 hour

Arrive in Helville around 4.00pm on the Sunday afternoon. 

*NOTE: There will be varying amounts of down time during the listed morning and afternoon program activities depending on the day and project. The trip itinerary is subject to change due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances*

About Spirit of Malala:  The Spirit of Malala is a 50ft research and conservation vessel with flush toilets, showers, seating areas and cooking facilities. This boat was built in support of Malala Yousafzai, an incredibly courageous young girl, who stood up for the rights of all young women to receive equal educational opportunities. In so doing she almost lost her life. Malala is the youngest person to receive a  Nobel Prize and she continues to inspire and promote equal education for women globally. The meaning of Malala in Malagasy is “My Darling”.

Volunteer Contribution:  Volunteers will visit the local schools and hand out donations of essential school supplies and sporting equipment as well as provide impromptu English lessons. They will also assist our forest and marine programs by participating in daily turtle, dolphin and bird surveys to identify changes in habitats and species populations. You can enjoy your free time by exploring the tropical islands, snorkeling in the turquoise waters or by joining in on a fun game of beach soccer with the village children.

Age:  Our volunteers range in age from 18 to retirees and everyone in between, though most are in their early to mid-twenties.

Number of Volunteers:  MRCI’s research centre at Turtle Cove can accommodate up to 54 volunteers at a time across all programs. There are usually between 10 and 12 volunteers participating monthly on each Island Outreach excursion.

Languages Spoken:  All program staff and volunteers must be able to speak, write and understand English. Our program staff and volunteers come from all over the world and speak a myriad of other languages in additional to English. Locally, our operations staff and the people of Madagascar speak Malagasy and some French. Volunteers have the chance to attend free Malagasy lessons offered on camp and learn more about the language and culture in this beautiful country.

Essential info:  Volunteers are expected to have their own health insurance. Vaccinations are not typically required to enter Madagascar, however this may vary depending on your travel path. We recommend consulting a travel doctor about vaccinations and medications. Recommended vaccinations for Madagascar include: yellow fever, tetanus, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, typhoid, and rabies.  

In addition, we recommend carrying preventative agents with you including sun screen, after sun lotion, mosquito repellent, rehydration supplements, anti-malarial medications, and anything else recommended by your doctor.  There is access to good, fairly priced medical care here in country if needed. Due to the hot, humid climate, it is incredibly important to drink enough water. We have plenty of bottled drinking water on-board.

Volunteers must bear in mind that this is an outdoor program and they may experience poor weather conditions when camping or whilst on the boat.

When packing, please keep in mind that there are no waste disposal or recycling centres in this area of Madagascar. Therefore, please minimize the amount of disposable, plastic or single-use type items you bring. Consider shampoo and conditioner bars rather than plastic bottles of liquid product. Be sure to remove as much packaging as possible before packing items (i.e., take new items out of their packaging, remove pills from blister packs and put in reusable pill bottle instead, bring a reusable water bottle, etc…). For women, consider bringing menstrual cups, leak-proof underwear or other washable/reusable feminine hygiene products rather than disposable versions. Opt for rechargeable batteries instead of single use batteries as we have no way to safely dispose of batteries on the island. We suggest also bringing a solar panel and battery pack if you have any electronics you want to keep charged (i.e. phone, laptop, e-reader, etc…).

What Is included in the fee: 

  • On camp orientation
  • Accommodation - shared tents (fully contained system w/ rain tarp + stakes) 
  • Drinking Water
  • Three meals per day
  • Most Park Entrance Fees
  • Transportation
  • Supervision and training by staff
  • Guided forest walks
  • Guided snorkelling
Insurance: Volunteers are expected to purchase their own health insurance.

Not Included:

  • Flights
  • Visa costs
  • Personal items
  • 50% of entry fee to Tanikely Nature Reserve. Total price is 20,000 Ariary; Volunteers pay 10,000 Ariary per person, the equivalent of less than $4 USD.
  • Beverages other than water
Currency:  In Madagascar the official currency is the Malagasy Ariary (MGA), which can only be exchanged in Madagascar. There are a number VISA ATMs located in Hellville which volunteers can draw cash from. We do however advise that you bring some Euro’s along with you.

Passport and Visa:  All visitors require visas and a one to three month single entry visa may be obtained on arrival at the airport. We do recommend you check with the Consulate General as visa requirements can change at any time. A passport valid for 6 months after date of return is required. Please ensure you have at least two blank pages available in your passport before commencement of travel.

Internet:  Wi-Fi and cell signal is not available in many of the areas volunteers will visit during the Island Outreach excursion, though there are some isolated pockets of service. It is best to speak with loved ones before departing to let them know you may not be in touch during the trip.

Laundry:  There is limited running fresh water on-board prioritized for food prep, showers and toilet facilities. Volunteers can hand wash any small items in seawater. It is recommended that volunteers bring enough clothing and underwear for the duration of the trip. 

What to bring along:

  • Light Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping roll mat
  • Torch with extra batteries
  • Fins, snorkel & mask (optional)
  • Basic first aid kit (which you can donate at the end of your trip)
  • Minimal clothing as dress is casual at all times.
  • Do pack some light warm clothing for the cooler evenings.
  • Trainers or hiking boots for forest walks
  • Personal items
  • Bath & beach towels
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Day pack (waterproof)
  • Dry bag/ziplock bags that will keep items dry
  • Photocopy of passport, travel insurance details, dive qualifications (if relevant) and other important travel documents
  • Debit card/credit card
  • Spending money
  • Solar Panel Charger
Optional Items for all Volunteers:

  • Battery pack (to use in conjunction with your solar panel)
  • Mobile phone (you can buy a local SIM card for around US$10)
  • A padlock to secure personal items
  • Laptop/iPad/iPhone
  • Camera (waterproof)
  • Books
  • Water bottle
  • Sarong
  • Treats/food difficult to get in Madagascar
  • Travel guide (many volunteers find Lonely Planet to be very helpful for preparation and once they are in Madagascar)

Typical day

Daily Life on the Boat:

  • Early morning starts (with the sunrise…its beautiful)
  • Morning “Turtle Watch” and “Bird Watch” (x2 volunteers/watch)
  • Breakfast on the boat
  • Travelling on boat during day (plenty of ‘chill time’). 
  • “Dolphin Watch” during travel (x2 volunteers/watch)
  • Arrive at destination mid-morning
  • At least one activity during the day and plenty of snorkelling opportunities
  •  Lunch on the boat
  • Travel to location where you will sleep
  • Afternoon “Turtle Watch” and “Bird Watch” (x2 volunteers/watch)
  • Drop off to shore upon arrival for tent set-up
  • Dinner on the boat
  • Back to shore to sleep
NOTE: The schedule will vary widely depending on boats, tides, actual arrival time, etc… The following is an example only and should not be considered an itinerary to be followed upon arrival. Follow the instructions of in-country staff for actual times and stay flexible. Daily life in Madagascar revolves around family, boats and tides. Embrace the ‘mora-mora’ way of life and don’t get into a hurry. Just try to relax and enjoy the journey. 

Free-time activities

Only cash is accepted on Nosy Be and the surrounding islands. There are only ATMs located on Nosy Be, therefore all cash needs to be drawn prior to departure. The ATMs all take VISA; only one or two will accept MasterCard. Depending on weekend activities and the number of souvenirs and snacks purchased, volunteers typically find between $50 and $100 USD per week to be sufficient spending money.

A few popular weekend activities / places to visit are listed below. NOTE: Unless marked otherwise, volunteers organize trips to these places on their own, not through MRCI, however there is contact information available on camp from past volunteers on how they booked trips.

  • Lokobe Forest Reserve
  • Discovery SCUBA Dive (through MRCI)
  • SCUBA Dive Training (through MRCI)
  • Explore different areas of Nosy Komba with a local guide and learn about medicinal plants, the endemic wildlife and more
  • Tanikely Natural Reserve
  • Visit Nosy Iranja or Nosy Sakatia (swimming and snorkelling)
  • Whale Shark Watching (seasonal)
  • Visit the Sacred Tree or Sacred Waterfall on Nosy Be
  • Hike up Mount Passot on Nosy Be
  • Visit Lemur Land park on Nosy Be, or the Lemur Park on Ambpang Village on Nosy Komba
  • Ankarana National Park
  • Amber Mountain National Park
  • Visit plantations on the mainland in the city of Ambanja
  • Visit the city of Diego Suarez including the Emerald Sea, the Three Bays, Tsingy Rouge rock formation and more

Water Sports
Swimming
Sightseeing
Diving/
Snorkling
Shopping/
Souvenirs
Climbing
Hiking
Yoga/
Meditation

Require­ments

In order to join the program you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date. There might be exemptions if you can provide the permission of your legal guardian(s) or if your are accompanied by your parents.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (basic level)
Criminal Background Check
required
Education Requirements
at High School level
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 08:00 - 16:00

What's Included

Services by MRCI - Madagascar Volunteer
The program fee covers the cost of accommodation, meals, airport pick-up, orientation, staff salaries, equipment, project materials, fuel costs, training and 24/7 in-country program support during your entire volunteer stay.
Airport Pickup at Fascene Airport

ARRIVAL INFO:  The program begins on the first and third Monday of every month. The MRCI base sits on a small island called Nosy Komba off the northwest coast of Madagascar. There is no airport, roads or cars on this island, however on the neighbouring island of Nosy Be there is a large port and airport. Please arrive to Nosy Be for pickup the day before your start date so you can meet the team on the Monday morning for transport to the boat in the Hellville port. 

Volunteers may fly directly into Nosy Be Fascene International Airport (airport code NOS), or into the capital city, Antananarivo (Tana for short; airport code TNR). If you fly into Tana, you can take a domestic flight from Tana to Nosy Be, or travel overland via Taxi Brousse or private car to Nosy Be. We can help arrange your overland transport if needed. This journey can take anywhere from 24 to 72 hours depending on number of stops, weather, road conditions, etc. 

FOR YOUR ARRIVAL: Once you arrive on Nosy Be, our driver will meet you. He will have an MRCI sign with a turtle logo. Depending on the time you arrive, an MRCI staff member wearing a blue MRCI shirt will also greet you. If there is time, you will be given a tour of the town of Hellville and an opportunity to purchase snacks, a local SIM card, draw money at an ATM, etc. Bear in mind that in addition to time constraints with boat departures, shops and stores all shut during siesta, between noon and 14:30 or 15:00. You will need to stay the night in Hellville on the Sunday before your start date in order to meet our staff member on the Monday morning. We can provide you with hotel recommendations if needed. The following day, you’ll meet an MRCI staff member at a predetermined time and place.

FOR YOUR DEPARTURE: You are responsible to arrange and pay for your own transport back to the airport, however we are happy to help you book your transport as needed.

Accommodation

On board the boat, volunteers experience more basic accommodation and a simple way of living.  The Spirit of Malala is a 50ft research and conservation vessel with cooking facilities, seating/dining area, showers, and flush toilets. Volunteers will sleep under the stars in tents at each of the remote beach camps. Tents complete with waterproof rain cover are provided. Expect to sleep two to three people per tent. Volunteers will also spend 3 nights in newly built beach house sharing a dorm room with beds and a modern local style bathroom. Volunteers will need to bring their own towels, pillow, light sheet or sleeping bag liner, light sleeping bag and sleeping mat as you will be sleeping on the ground. 

Dorm Room Camping
Food & Beverages

On the boat, three meals per day are provided seven days per week. On the boat, each meal is prepared by our on-board chef using traditional Malagasy cooking methods making use of fresh, locally grown, seasonally available produce. Most meals have a rice base with a serving of beans, usually cooked in a sauce with vegetables on the side, and will change depending on the season and availability of local produce. Some meals will include fish/seafood, beef (zebu), or chicken. Meat, when part of a meal, is typically prepared with a sauce, cut into small pieces, and served over rice. In addition to bananas, breakfast usually consists of either baguettes and jam, eggs or crepes.  There is a vegetarian option for all meals. Due to logistics and the limitations of our remote location, we cannot provide a vegan option. Vegans can help themselves to the vegetable-based foods prepared, but will also need to supplement their diet with foods purchased themselves.  

Internet Access
Limited access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Fascene Airport (NOS) in Nossi-be. We assist you to find cheap flights to Madagascar.
Travel Insurance
Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for Madagascar provides security and is a plus to have.
Vaccines
If you are intending to volunteer in Madagascar you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Madagascar.

Dates & Fees

NO CREDIT CARD FEES

Details on arrival

MRCI's Island Outreach Program runs throughout the year.  Start Dates are the 1st and 3rd Monday of each month.

ARRIVAL DAY: You will be met at the airport (or port) on Nosy Be by our driver or an MRCI staff member. If you arrive before Sunday, you will be dropped off at your hotel after a tour of Hellville. 

MONDAY (DAY OF DEPARTURE)

  • 9:00 Meet at Oasis Coffee shop 
  • 9:30 Transport volunteers to the CNRO
  • 10:30 Marine Museum tour
  • 11:30 Orientation and Health and Safety briefing
  • 12:00 Depart Hellville on-board the Spirit of Malala. 
NOTE: The schedule will vary widely depending on boats, tides, actual arrival time, etc… The following is an example only and should not be considered an itinerary to be followed upon arrival. Follow the instructions of in-country staff for actual times and stay flexible. Daily life in Madagascar revolves around family, boats and tides. Embrace the ‘mora-mora’ way of life and don’t get into a hurry. Just try to relax and enjoy the journey.  

Availability
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Duration
1 - 1 weeks

Program fees

Costs: Prices in USD
1 week (min. stay)
$880
1 week (max. stay)
$880
Average fees
$880 /week

Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated. MRCI - Madagascar Volunteer will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment will be agreed with MRCI - Madagascar Volunteer during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

Why book with Volunteer World

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Island Outreach Assistants

MRCI’s Island Outreach program has volunteers visiting several remote islands undertaking various initiatives such as teaching, construction and scientific research

$880/week

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