I am lucky that, right at the beginning of my work here, I get to participate in one of WWF’s most successful actions ever: 23rd March every year is the day of “Earth Hour” – the symbolic act of switching off the light for one hour over the years has grown to be popular in many places around the world, from Sydney to Paris.
In Toliara, Earth Hour is celebrated with an, in my view, highly appropriate event: A cyclone ravaged this region about a month ago, leaving many families homeless. To ease their economic situation, while at the same time raising awareness for the destruction of forests for charcoal production, WWF has decided to distribute 1,000 economical stoves to cyclone victims. These stoves are constructed, following a very simple principle, which allows for a reduced use of charcoal for cooking. Outside the venue, the NGO that has developed these stoves showcases some more sophisticated models, including a solar stove with a built-in battery that has several plug-ins, such as for a cell phone charger and a plug-in. I am seriously impressed by the ingenuity of the inventor.
One thing every traveller knows is that it is almost inevitable to get ripped off or robbed at the beginning of your stay. Thus, I should not be angry with myself for paying 10,000 Ariary for a pousse-pousse ride, which should normally cost about 1,500 Ariary. I am angry anyway.
Going for karaoke with half the WWF staff is a good way of getting to know my new colleagues (and their singing qualities). I am impressed with my boss’ very authentic Jamaican accent, as he interprets “No Woman No Cry”.