Jan. 4, 2016 marked the study abroad interns’ official first day at Centre ValBio, and one of the highlights was meeting with the mayor of Ranomafana. At the tiny government building in town, Mayor Jose Rabemiafara welcomed the group of eight interns and their coordinators. After listening to a description of each intern’s individual project, Mayor Rabemiafara expressed his concerns for the town of Ranomafana. He discussed issues such as proper garbage disposal and sanitation, mosquito related illnesses, and difficulties growing vegetables.
He stressed that teaching the next generation about conservation and biodiversity is the first step to resolving these issues. Mayor Rabemiafara informed the interns on current programs for the local children such as school lunches and conservation clubs. He expressed his passion for helping the children by showing the interns his plans to build a playground in a small lot that CVB has landscaped near the local hospital. He explained that most children in the town, and in Madagascar, never receive toys or things to play with, so building a playground would be a huge step for the town.
Meeting with Mayor Rabemiafara helped create a more vivid picture of the town of Ranomafana. This gave the interns a better idea of what they can do to help the town during their stay.