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15 July 2006 

MADAGASCAR - TRAVELLING FOR VOLUNTARY WORK

Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world, just over 580 thousand square kilometres (approximately 227 thousand square miles).  It lies in the Indian Ocean, just east of Africa and is a living laboratory of evolution.  Isolated from the rest of the world for over 60 million years, about 75% of its animals live nowhere else on the planet, including the endangered Angonoka tortoise and the rare aye-aye.

Sandi Toksvig is joined by novelist and Guardian travel writer Nick Maes who has just returned from the island and Richard Nimmo who runs a marine conservation and research organisation.

Peace Corps volunteer Tony D'Souza talks about his experience of voluntary work in the midst of a civil war, fictionalised in his new book entitled Whiteman.


Presented by Sandi Toksvig

Madagascar - Morondava


This week's guests:

NICK MAES, novelist and Guardian travel writer.  Nick has recently returned from two weeks in Madagascar where he's researched small boutique hotels with strong ethical credentials.  There is a worry that Madagascar might be in danger of becoming over-developed with plans for large hotel complexes that would destroy the ecology. 

TONY D'SOUZA is a novelist whose internationally award winning fiction has appeared in magazines and journals such as The New Yorker, Playboy, Tin House, Stand, The Literary Review, and many others.

Tony worked as a volunteer with the Peace Corps on an AIDS programme for two and a half years in Ivory Coast. When civil war broke out, he went to Madagascar and worked teaching English in a rural high school for several months, while living in a Catholic orphanage.

Whiteman, Tony's first novel, is a fictionalised account of working for an aid organisation in Ivory Coast.  It's the story of Jack or "Whiteman" who loses his aid-worker illusions and high-minded ideals.  It chronicles the daily struggles of an African village during a time of war.

Whiteman
Publisher: Portobello Books Ltd
ISBN: 1846270499

RICHARD NIMMO is the managing director of Blue Ventures an award-winning, not-for-profit organisation dedicated to facilitating projects and expeditions that enhance global marine conservation and research.

Blue Ventures evolved following a series of coral reef monitoring expeditions by marine biology students from Edinburgh and Oxford.  Two of the original students decided that once the project had come to an end they wanted to continue monitoring the reefs, and set up a camp where others could come and continue the work, and where they could leave equipment.  They created a camp and advertised for volunteers who would continue with the work as well as provide some money.  Later they diversified into looking at the socio-ecological impact on the local community.

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PRESENTER BIOGRAPHIES
Sandi ToksvigSandi Toksvig:
The daughter of a foreign correspondent, Sandi has been travelling all her life more info

John McCarthy John McCarthy is a widely travelled journalist and presenter with a particular interest in the Middle East.
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