Our inspiring volunteer stories
Dhanushri Munasinghe, from Sri Lanka, is volunteering for FoE as a freelance content writer:
“I am a Sri Lanka-born conservationist who is currently volunteering as a Conservation Biologist with the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation. My biggest passion is wildlife conservation and my research interests include behaviour and ecology of reptiles, impacts of invasive species, wildlife policy and wildlife trade. I also enjoy volunteering, blogging, nature photography, traveling and hiking in my free time. I am experienced in working with the UNDP GEF Small Grants Programme in Sri Lanka, particularly with environment-based community projects in the urban wetland landscape. After my master’s degree,I recently completed a course in Endangered Species Management with the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in Jersey, United Kingdom.
I believe that protecting wildlife and their habitats is not just limited to biologists or academics. Conservation is most effective when it can draw from the skills and experience of people from diverse backgrounds. Communities can play a large role in bringing about positive changes for the planet through acts like altering their consumption habits, volunteering for environment causes, participating in citizen science, donating to organisations that do good work and lobbying for good environmental policies. By volunteering as a content writer for the Citadelle Native Re-vegetation Project in Petite-Montagne, I hope to assist the project with engaging more people through environmental awareness and contributing towards the sustainability of the beautiful island of Mauritius.”
15 September 2019
Ragilen Mamoodee joined the team as a substitute Project coordinator for 5 months:
“Choosing to work for the Citadelle Native Re-vegetation Project was surely a wise decision. I have enjoyed working as project coordinator for the past 5 months. Since the very first day at work, I felt enthusiastic for being part of such an ambitious team. As a team, we were very determined in endeavoring the objectives set for the year 2019 by the Friends of the Environment NGO.
It was an interesting and challenging project. I valued each day to be part of this problem-solving community, especially while tackling various human-wildlife conflicts.
I also had the privileged to be part of the initiation team for the participation of the Mauritius Scouts Association with the restoration project. Such involvements helped us immensely in meeting the objectives set.
As a conservationist, I enjoyed each and every moment in spreading insular conservation and biodiversity awareness to the younger generation. This had certainly helped in boosting my confidence and improved my communication skills. According to me, creating awareness about conservation in people’s mind is what really matters nowadays. The society, especially youngsters need to be informed about the importance of preserving and conserving native forest and the crucial necessity for forest restoration.
Citadelle Native Re-vegetation project was an enriching experience. I undoubtedly felt much honored to be part of such a dedicated team. I will definitely encourage people to join them on this fulfilling journey in restoring the Petite-Montagne and for future projects aiming at conservation and restoration.”
9 September 2019
Prishnee Bissessur contributed in the project for 3 months:
“The Citadelle Native Re-vegetation Project is one of my pet projects which I enjoyed working and volunteering for since its conception and more recently, last year for three months, with a wonderful team. This laudable initiative of Friends of the Environment NGO in collaboration with Currimjee Foundation of creating a green space in the bustling city of Port-Louis provided me the opportunity to contribute save native plant species, restore the Petite-Montagne and give it back a little of its green glow.
This project enabled me to promote conservation and importance of biodiversity, its protection among children, youngsters and adults. Creating awareness, improving on my communication skills, teamwork with people sharing the same passion for nature and its protection are some of the key lessons I received while volunteering on the project.
The smoldering sun and heat, the sometimes treacherous slopes at Petite-Montagne really put your patience and determination at test. However, all the sweat is worth the pain, when you see the plants thriving, sometimes flowering or even regenerating, giving a feeling of satisfaction and pleasure of having helped to make it happen.
I congratulate the whole team and volunteers for this wonderful initiative and for allowing me to bring my little contribution to the project, which is certainly a success story, praiseworthy of every person behind who didn’t fear to get their hands dirty. I would also encourage youngsters, who care for the environment to come and join the team to gain in experience as well as support this project.”
22 October 2018
Rizwaan Ameerun contributed in the project for 2 months:
“The Citadelle Native Re-vegetation Project is an excellent initiative to restore indigenous biodiversity in Mauritius. I feel happy and privileged to have been part of the project for a period of one month. My list of duties included fieldwork, site maintenance, supervision and coordination of weeding and native species planting activities, the control of nursery stocks, continue testing of different planting techniques and monitoring restoration indicators and supervising the work of gardeners. It was a wonderful experience during which I learnt many things and I acquired various skills which sincerely I didn’t know before. Since the time I was studying Biology at the University, I had deep interest in the field of conservation. Working on this project has further enriched my knowledge and experience in this field.
Moreover, I am glad that I got the opportunity to meet and interact with different people as well as eminent personalities such as the CEO of Emtel. It was a pleasure and an honor to carry out a presentation on the topic of biodiversity with the CEO and the employees of Emtel hence broadening their knowledge about the project. Managing on my own was not an easy task, but with patience and determination, I completed my one month of work at Citadelle with a sense of self-satisfaction. I am grateful to the team for trusting me and giving me this memorable working experience.”
9 July 2018
Claes Schönbeck, from Denmark, joined the Citadel Team as an intern for 3 months:
“I feel most privileged to have been invited to participate in the project of restoring the native flora on the slopes of the Citadel. As I arrived for my first day I had no idea how much work is necessary to carry out such a project successfully, but spending hours in the hot sun planting, measuring and watering has endowed me with the deepest respect for those who carry out this job on a daily basis.
My time on the project was a great opportunity to learn about the native flora, be it one of the specimens we were planting or simply an interesting plant I had encountered on one of my hikes around the island, and surrounded by experts in the fields of ecology, I was never short of an answer. This in turn made hiking on Mauritius so much more interesting as I soon began to recognize plants in nature, sharing my newfound wisdom with everyone around me. Did you know, for instance, that if you break a leaf of the Dodonaea viscosa, it releases a beautiful scent of sour apple?
But most of all, I am thankful for the opportunity to meet some of the sweetest people of Mauritius. Making friends with Prishnee, Ashmi and Jeeya, discussing everything between heaven and earth while working, and getting a glimpse of what day-to-day life is like here on Mauritius, is something I wouldn’t have been without.
So thank you, everyone involved in the project, for fighting for a healthy and beautiful Mauritius, and thank you for allowing me to participate.”
30 August 2017
Ashmi Bunsy joined the Citadel Team as an intern for 3 months:
“Volunteering for the Restoration Project at the Citadel has been truly an eye-opening encounter. Recently graduated from the University of Mauritius, I hold a degree in Biology. I am a truly passionate about Conservation/Ecology and strive to bring my contributions towards conservation measures in curbing unprecedented and unabated threats to our insular biodiversity.
I heard about this endeavour briefly before but was not fully aware of neither its driving force nor missions/visions. It was only after being approached by the coordinators to join the project did I learn more about the latter. The restoration work is mainly geared towards re-planting endemic plants species adapted to the prevailing hot-dry conditions of the site.
During my three months volunteer work, not only did I learn tremendously, but also got the opportunity to work within a motivated and strong team. My main duties included planting, watering, tagging and monitoring planted endemics/natives. Albeit being a small team (four members), group discussions were synergistically and effectively met and oriented at the smooth running of tasks. Working on this project has allowed me to fine-tune my analytical, technical, communication and leadership skills. I personally gained from the project by meeting new people and overcome my slightly introvert character.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and would definitely encourage people to come forth and join the wonderful effort of Friends of the Environment and partners.”
29 August 2017