Island to Island: Hong Kong Students Help Madagascar's Children

Unsure who is happier, but also not sure it matters. (Tom McShane)
 June 24, 2011 Text by Danial Zho, Photos by Tom McShane and Chad Lebo, Captions by Chad Lebo

[Note: Article and photos from World Challenge volunteers from Chinese International School.] 

Five minutes after landing on June 19, 2011, eleven students brave explorers, one teacher and one army officer were already getting bitten. Soon they would know not to fear mosquito bites, but to embrace them (until they catch malaria), in this land seen only in the movies known as Madagascar.

These adventurers arrived from a distant land named Hong Kong, expecting to lose weight, get toned and tanned (except for the Caucasians – they just burn.) We expected a grueling trek and backbreaking service work, but contrary to our expectations, Akany Avoko blew us away.

New ceiling, new paint, new storage room. (Tom McShane)
At Akany Avoko, we refurnished two store rooms and one bathroom, and had a blast while doing it. Being fed six times a day didn’t help our waistlines, but the food was excellent and we weren’t complaining.

The painting team and their able supervisor, Jose, in one of the good-as-new storage rooms. (Chad Lebo)

The kids here are so lively and full of vitality. They sing and dance to Justin Bieber and High School Musical, not unlike what we do back in Hong Kong. Just from looking at their smiles we can see the bright future ahead of them provided by Akany’s top quality education. Each kid is very lucky to be here, and so are we.

Having lived here, it is easy to forget that we are in Madagascar, a developing world we had only seen portrayed on the big screen from Dreamworks. 

Fresh paint and some new tiles in the shower give new life to a bathroom. (Tom McShane)
After painting, the student volunteers still had their hands full. (Tom McShane)
Twelve volunteers, many happy kids and one dog. (Chad Lebo)

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