Photojournalism in Madagascar: Summary

Hello Charles Center bloggers!  I’d like to start by apologizing for being out of contact this summer.  A faulty keyboard and spotty web connectivity prevented me from publishing a lot of my content and progress live, but I hope to blog about my experiences retroactively on my personal blog, and hold several showcases of my research across campus this year.  Two weeks ago today, I boarded my flight back home with almost 6000 photos, 200 pages of detailed notes about the sites I visited, hours of video footage, and high quality field recordings from my two month stay in “the eighth continent”.  More important, though, is what remained in Madagascar: a network of friends and acquaintances across the country that are actively involved and personally dedicated to the perpetual struggle to preserve Madagascar’s natural heritage.  In lieu of creating separate posts to summarize the different stages of my research, I hope that this quick summary will suffice.  In quotations I’ve inserted excerpts from my notebook…

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Photojournalism in Madagascar Intro

Hey everyone, good to be blogging for the Charles Center again!

If any of you followed my research last summer, you’ll find that it shares a lot of parallels with what I’m doing this year (see previous posts or http://mbmtravel.tumblr.com/ for more information).  I’m now in the process of finalizing my visit to Madagascar (buying tickets, arranging lodging, etc), where I’ll be working with Fanamby (http://www.fanamby.org.mg/ if you can speak French) doing a photojournalistic exploration of human-wildlife interactions.

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Arembepe, BA

Below are a few photos of Tamar’s environmental education center (adjacent to their research facilities) in Arembepe, BA.  Tamar’s outreach program in this community are oriented towards kids that have been deemed to be at “high social risk” due to the prevalence of drugs and domestic violence in their community.  The team of teachers at Tamar’s education center is made up of visiting biological research interns and a couple guys from the local community who started working Tamar when they were young.

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Environment Day

Images from an “Environment Day” celebration held in the main Plaza of Praia do Forte (Brazilian equivalent of our Earth Day).  A giant whale from the Humpback Whale Institute made from plastic bottles dominates the scene at the plaza, while a group of local kids organized into a samba band play and sing songs to honor whales, turtles, and the environment.  Kids learn to make a variety of toys and dolls out of recyclable materials in the town square.  In Tamar’s visitor’s center, Tamar’s band, Casco Cabeça, plays a song about turtles while a throng of kids sings along.  At sunset, a rehabilitated green turtle is released back into the wild while almost 100 people, locals and tourists alike, look on in anticipation.

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Environmental Education in Praia do Forte

Originally posted on Monday, June 21st, 2010 at http://mbmtravel.tumblr.com

The first afternoon in Praia do Forte was spent with Tamar’s regional coordinator for environmental education, Valeria.  Amanda and I sat down to talk in front of Tamar’s stage, which I already recognized from videos of various shows that had been put on there.  Now, there was a puppet show going on, directed and played by kids.  Valeria explained that the kids were part of a program called Tamarzinhos, which takes in 15 new kids from the community every year and involves them in an intensive course in environmental education taught by Tamar. The kids spend half of their days (the half that’s not spent in school) in and out of their classroom at the Tamar base learning about marine biology and participating in activities with Tamar researcher and the community.  They assist in monitoring of turtles, community environmental education campaigns, and even learn how to give tours of the visitor’s center and eventually give the tour of the entire facility to tourists.  The puppet show we were watching was part of an assignment that they were given; the Tamarzinhos were instructed to go home and listen to the stories of their grandparents and elders in the community (mostly fishermen) and turn one of them into a puppet show to put on to the public.  This not only served as both an educational tool for the Tamarzinhos and the public, but also as a form of cultural preservation; keeping stories and knowledge alive that would otherwise be lost with the passing of a generation.  This was just one of many examples of the interchange of ideas between the local community and Tamar.

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