The best way for tourists to help Malagasy people
This post is a reply to a question that I was asked on Instagram.
It is a great question!
First of all, visiting Madagascar will always help Madagascar economically in one way or another, so that is highly encouraged.
When in Madagascar, it is best to always try to buy things like travel services, food, accommodation, and anything else you might need from local businesses. This will maximise the amount of your money that stays in Madagascar. You might also be surprised by how much cheaper it is to buy things this way. Especially food, although it won't always be of the same quality as food that is made for tourists.
The most straightforward way to support a particular cause is through a non-profit organisation that agrees with your values, i.e., donate, volunteer, or even create one!
I would like to emphasise that if you have some things to donate, please donate them through an organisation. Please do not give away anything in the streets or randomly under any circumstances.
Please do not give away anything in the streets or randomly under any circumstances.
I am about to explain why not.
Giving away things randomly in the street only teaches Malagasy people that foreigners are there to give them something. Therefore, every time children (and even adults) see foreigners, the automatic reaction is to beg. And in places where many foreigners go, begging soon turns into a business.
I think that is just bad practice. It annoys tourists that did not plan to give anything, and soon becomes annoying even for those who did. They will not have a good impression of the place and will give bad reviews to other tourists who want to come.
I believe anyone who has traveled to Tsingy has experienced this. Every time a 4x4 stops on the road from Morondava to Bekopaka, a group of children run towards it, not to interact but to beg for "bonbons" (candies), simply because previous tourists got them used to this practice. In places where few tourists go, there is almost no begging, and interactions with the locals are far more genuine.
If you are interested in helping education in Madagascar, please visit the page of Give Them a Smile (Facebook, Instagram) or watch this video. We founded this organisation two years ago, and its main goal is to support the education of children in need in Madagascar.