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Katie's story

After not being able to get in contact initially with Centre Ankanifitahiana I gave up on having the idea of volunteering in an orphanage during my adventure to Madagascar. However as soon as I arrived at the airport I found out my trusty teammate Kate had managed to find her way into us volunteering at an orphanage. I was overjoyed and from then on I knew it was going to be a good week in Madagascar. 
I hadn’t given the orphanage too much thought until we were dodging the mud and cracks of the path through the back alleys of Antana. As we walked in all 300 children were crammed into a little room being introduced to volunteers from around the world. I was amazed at how happy the children were, and the enthusiasm they showed on their faces in participating in the song ‘heads, Shoulders, knees and toes’.
After a couple of days of hanging out with the children and Alex, attempting to teach them English, playing challenging Malagasy games and pinpointing where Australia is on a map, I was adamant about sponsoring a child. And as hard as it was picking one child, it took a long time, however after a lot of thinking, an eight-year-old boy came into mind.                                                                                        
P3090867.JPGAlex kindly walked me to his house one evening, which was a 4 kilometre walk (a lot for a little boy every day!) along bridges, thin muddy pathways that divided water and rice fields, through villages where the community was so engaged in where I was going. Until I hit a group of smiling children all wanting a look and their photo taken. I found my small 8-year-old boy, whose beaming smile and cute monkey ears. I met his mother, and got to speak to them both in their small wooden slanted home, which I was very welcomed into. This was an amazing experience, one I will never forget, sitting in their candle lit room with Alex and the family, and having a three way conversation of translations to let them know I would be sponsoring the son for his schooling. The mother was delighted and was speechless. Being with that family (as well as all the other children running in and out of the closely connected community) made me feel fortunate with what I was able to do for them.                                                                                           
Centre Ankanifitahiana really does provide a great service for street children in Madagascar. The experiences I had when I was there are ones I will never forget; they took us in like family members and helped us out from the kindness of their hearts. The stories that I was exposed to makes me look at the world in a different way now. I hope to continue helping and learning about countries like Madagascar and meeting brave and courageous people like Alex and his team. I will unquestionably keep in contact with the centre, and will certainly be visiting again one day soon.

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