Centre Arrupe, Madagascar

Our partners at the Centre Arrupe in Madagascar have been training young people to live and work sustainably, so they can protect their country’s unique environment.

Two beneficiaries, Rinah and Emmella, share their experiences below, detailing how the centre’s Life and Environmental Education (LIFEE) programme has helped them.

Rinah Heriche Rakotondrasoa (pictured above, centre):

Since 2016, I’ve been a member of the “Unis Vers Vintsy Tana” association, which is committed to environmental protection in Madagascar’s capital, Antananarivo. At the time, my aspirations were to expand our association’s initiatives to the whole of our big island.

In 2021, I had the opportunity to take part in a training workshop with the Centre Arrupe Madagascar, focusing on the theme of “Advocacy for ecology – time to commit”. This training inspired us to take concrete action on a large scale, highlighting the importance of networking, particularly in the area of advocacy.

Following this training, I made a significant commitment to structure a platform bringing together environmental associations in Madagascar.

On 18 January 2022, our teams managed to officially launch the platform, and I was elected national coordinator of the platform called “VATO” (Rock in malagasy), standing for “Vondro Atambatry ny Tontolo Iainana” (translation: Groups united by environmental protection).

Our mission is to promote the voices and ideas of young people involved in behavioural change, including environmental values, in order to influence political decisions for the sustainable management of natural resources.

Environmental education, training, information monitoring, lobbying, setting up consultation forums, advocacy and reforestation are our main activities.

Our vision is to become a “Platform of young people, actors and leaders of social, environmental and behavioural change for the sustainable development of Madagascar”. This vision requires sacrifice and sustained effort.

At present, nine associations on the island are members of our platform. My participation in training to become a Laudato Si Animator in 2023 gives us the courage to continue our efforts.

Thanks to this training, I aspire to share our commitment to environmental protection through social networks, and even through a radio show. Every week, our team produces a radio show called “Tia Natiora” (translation: Love nature).

Many thanks to the Centre Arrupe team and Jesuit Missions UK for their invaluable support of our efforts on behalf of our society and our common home.

Young people, get involved, because our future depends on our environment.

Emmella Tsiatra (pictured below):

In October 2023, I took a Laudato Si’ Animators (ALS) training course through the Environment and Sustainable Development program of the Centre Arrupe Madagascar (CA MDG).

Since 2022, I’ve been a member of HARP (Helping Ambohidratrimo by Recycling Plastics) in Madagascar. I’ve taken part in several of the association’s activities: our mission is to inform, educate and communicate for a change in behavior, all through plastics recycling.

In October 2023, CA MDG put out a call for applications for a Laudato Si’ Animator training, whose participants would be members of the worldwide community of prayer and action of the Laudato Si’ Movement, and would carry out environmental actions in their local communities.

I applied immediately because we HARP as Friends of Centre Arrupe Madagascar (ACAMA) have the same vision as CA MDG for the environment. Then, fortunately, I was selected to attend the training.

As a Master’s student in the Faculty of Science, specialising in Plant Biology and Ecology, I’m aware that I have a big responsibility towards protecting the environment and children.

When there’s a training opportunity like this, I take part as much as I can. And I can share my personal experiences, since my area of study is included in this program.

In addition, the environment is my passion and I have noticed that education is really the key to environmental protection, which we are constantly talking about. I also wanted to contribute to the development of this program to acquire skills and broaden my practical skills.

HARP has several programs, and we’ve already designed a project called HARP’s Ecolo-School (environmental program). It was during the ALS training that I got some good ideas for carrying out the project, because, apart from sessions on the encyclical Laudato Si, we were able to design our own project, which we could improve  afterwards.

After the training, I made a commitment to reduce my ecological footprint, especially on the use of plastic bags.

The truth is that our future depends on our environment. We’ll never achieve our goal of sustainable development without taking care of our common home. So, I would always be willing to do my part.

At the moment, we at HARP, following the ALS training, have finally created the HARP Ecolo-School programme in order to share good practices in favour of ecology, agronomy and the environment (environmental education) with several schools (public and private).

This program helps me reconnect with the basics of civic-mindedness in favour of the environment and allows me to develop knowledge, particularly in terms of sharing, awareness-raising and community life. This allows me to build very strong bonds with children, young people and local populations.

Read more Lent Campaign testimonies here.

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