• 18 October 2019

    A brief history of Madagascar, Colonisation and piracy!

    The island of Madagascar was isolated for a great many years from both Indian and African continents. Thanks to this, it allowed a great many endemic plant and animal species to develop before the first human colony, predicted to have arrived between 200 BC and 500 CE. Since then, the island has received waves of settlers of diverse origins including; Austronesian, Bantu, Arab, South Asian, Chinese and European. Through centuries of intermarriage, the Malagasy people developed.

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    • 9 October 2019

    What’s happening? General updates.

    It's been a busy few weeks, with a rush on preparing final things, organising documents and other such mayhem due to the approaching departure. Unfortunately, my visa documents had been delayed, which left me at a loss of what to do. As I am working out there for 6 months, a standard tourist visa would never be accepted, so I needed to take the more complicated route of sending off for what is called a “short stay extendable visa” which requires a thick stack of documents for it to be approved, including a work permit from the Madagascan government, which had been subsequently delayed. My original plans to fly out with a fellow volunteer this coming Friday have most definitely been cancelled. Luckily, the documents turned up last Wednesday which, though it still meant I would not be travelling out on my original date, I would not be pushing back my dates too far. 

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    • 2 October 2019

    ABC’s of scuba diving, interesting facts about diving you may not know!

    A few nights ago I was chatting with my dad about my new scuba equipment, explaining the purpose of the variety of pieces needed to scuba dive, when he commented about how he was completely unaware of the existence of a secondary regulator (breathing apparatus) that all divers carry. This “2nd Stage” is usually bright yellow and is used if your companion (or buddy) has any issues with their air whilst diving, you can share your tank and surface safely with the use of this apparatus. Dad then recommended that I write a post about these sort of facts. I did a little research into frequently asked questions that most non-divers ask, so I hope that I can educate everyone a little in the complexity, and simplicity of diving. I have picked out a few questions that people have asked me before and shall answer them here.

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    • 25 September 2019

    Good health and healthy eating what I’m doing to self-improve!

    Apologies for the delay in this post, I’ve had a rather busy week, so it took a little time to get this out. 

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    • 13 September 2019

    Doctors appointments and ‘Fit to dive’ Medicals.

    Travelling to a third world country, especially for such a length of time as six months, is no simple feat! To comfortably live in such an environment, there are many vaccinations that I need to have. To organise them was a bit of a kerfuffle, I originally rang up my local clinic to see if I could receive the vaccinations through the NHS, but unfortunately, there is no travel clinic in Wellingborough and I was instead directed towards Boots Pharmacy in Rushden Lakes. The staff were happy to help and I was soon booked into once-a-fortnight appointments, to ensure that I didn’t experience too many negative side effects from being jabbed with all kinds of diseases. 

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    • 7 September 2019

    Reality setting in, scuba equipment shopping spree!

    Spending six months in another country having the experience of a lifetime is definitely exciting, but simultaneously terrifying. While the rest of my friends are only travelling only a few hours away from home, towards university, I have found myself travelling to the other end of the world, a 13-hour flight in its own right! My worries have been slightly eased as I have organised to travel down with a fellow volunteer at Reef Doctor. That reminds me, flights have been booked! I am travelling from Heathrow, stopping off at Paris, then travelling down to Madagascar non-stop all with someone far more comfortable with doing such things by themselves, unlike me. When booking the flights, I got to pick seats and I must admit, I got rather over-excited when I discovered that my long flight would be spent on such a large plane! As I have never travelled further than Morocco, a trip on a plane with a centre aisle of seats has never been experienced (Until now!). 

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    • 30 August 2019

    What is Reef Doctor, and how are they helping?

    Reef doctor[https://www.reefdoctor.org/] is a non-profit organisation created 15 years ago based in the Bay of Ranobe in Southern Madagascar. They aim to protect marine and terrestrial habitats through conservation, research and restoration projects, but also support the local community with social development and poverty alleviation. Reef Doctor has created and nurtured many community-led local initiatives to encourage environmental stewardship and sustainable fisheries. 

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    • 22 August 2019

    What is Madagascar like? A few facts and figures!

    For those who didn’t know,Madagascar is an island country, found off the east coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. Madagascar is actually the fourth largest island in the world, whilst Great Britain rests in eighth place. 

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    • 19 August 2019

    An important announcement!

    Oxford Street Therapy Centre is kindly dedicating their fund-raising efforts at the centre to help support Reef Doctor's work! The first drive will be to encourage everyone interested in contributing to gather together any old One Pound coins they may still have 'kicking about'. The Bank of England will still accept these and duly pay any credit to a nominated bank account. So in this way we hopefully can gather some funds to help support this valuable cause. Please start your collection and look out for more information here whilst I talk about how Reef Doctor is contributing with their important and truly sustainable program serving both the natural environment and the local community in Madagascar, along with my personal experience with them!

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    • 16 August 2019

    Packing lists and purchases, preparations for the trip.

    Packing for a one-week holiday is hard enough, now the greater challenge of packing for six months has appeared, deadline looming on the horizon. I like to think of myself as rather organised when it comes to holiday packing, and I have been given a packing list of recommended things to bring along, which makes my job relatively easier. The harder task is working out how to pack six months worth of sun cream without confusing some poor customs officer! Reef doctor has also introduced a ban on using any sun creams with reef-damaging chemicals, which are surprisingly many brands. Chemicals such as  Oxybenzone, Butylparaben and Octinoxate are known to cause coral bleaching, disrupt coral breeding and damage coral’s DNA. Oxybenzone can be found in over 3500 sun cream brands worldwide! 

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    • 8 August 2019

    A new journey

    Gap years are the chance to try something new, to have a little taste of adult life before diving into education once more. Before heading off to university I was determined to travel somehow, and I found myself applying to intern with a reef conservation project in Southern Madagascar. I was terribly surprised to discover that I had been accepted onto the team, with a childhood of watching National Geographic documentaries, a dream has somehow become a reality.  As a member of the reception team here at Oxford Street Therapy Centre, I have been offered a chance to publically chronicle my experiences in this little corner of the internet! For the next eight months I shall be documenting my preparation and journey itself through this blog, I hope you enjoy it.

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