Students on Ice (SOI), Alumni News: Development work in Madagascar: June 2, 2014.
We caught up with SOI alumna Susannah Robertson, who fundraised her way onto the Arctic expedition in 2002. In the twelve years since her expedition, Susannah has had an exciting career in international development, which has taken her to many interesting corners of the world and even back to the Arctic.
Tell me a bit about your job for the Aga Khan Foundation, and what it’s like living in Madagascar.
I am currently in the first month of a year long contract consulting for Aga Khan Foundation Canada as a Reporting and Documentation Specialist with L’Organisation pour le Soutien au Développement Rural à Madagascar (OSDRM).
OSDRM’s current focus is working with rice farmers to increase yields and support the development of cooperatives and savings groups. My role involves working closely with the finance department to ensure the organization is compliant with internal policies and procedures as well as those of funders.
In the rural village of Antsohihy where I will be spending the majority of my time, life is simple. I have a one-room guesthouse with a shared kitchen where I cook meals with fresh produce from the market. I go for runs before dawn while the air is still cool and work on my Malagash lessons during the three-hour mid daybreak. The break provides an escape from the heat but makes from long days (7:30 am – 6:30 pm). On the weekends Karaoke and Zumba are excellent distractions.
Once a month I will head back to the capital of Antananarivo to work with the staff at the head office. This is an opportunity to stock up on things that cannot be found in Antsohihy and to enjoy cooler temperatures, spectacular views courtesy of the hilly landscape and French inspired meals with lots of French bread, wine and cheese.
One of the perks of topical Island living is of the course white sand beaches and turquoise waters which I am sure I will take advantage of on long weekends, particularly in the summer when the heat becomes too much.
Previously on Ismailimail…