Dr. Alison Jolly, leading figurehead for Madagascar, began studying ring tailed lemurs in Madagascar’s spiny desert in the early 1960s. Since then, she’s become world famous for her work as a dedicated anthropologist, and leader for conservation, development and education.

Alison Jolly is happily married to Sir Richard Jolly, former head of UNICEF, who she attributes sparking her interest for children’s education in Madagascar. She’s leading new efforts to introduce picture books to the country, that have a dual purpose of introducing Malagasy children to both story books and their rare and unique biodiversity.

While in the developed world, children hear tales of Madagascar’s wildlife and ecological wonders, Malagasy children are much less likely. This is one of a series of new initiatives intended to change this reality and inspire active citizens through “natural pride”.

Find out more at: http://www.lemurreserve.org/akoproject.html

Meanwhile, I met Alison Jolly to discuss my studies at the University of Sussex. We exchanged ideas regarding education in Madagascar. The stark reality is bleak (http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?ReportId=92235), however, the focus on sustainability remains critical. The future for Madagascar is dependent on the future of resources, and prioritizing education that prepares children to develop sustainable livelihoods is critical. What looks hopeful is the new awareness and desire of UNICEF and other organizations to begin addressing these challenges. Alison Jolly will leave to Madagascar in upcoming weeks to discuss these new developments.

I was welcomed to the Jolly’s home with tea and cake, alongside both Alison and Sir Richard Jolly. Occasionally, it dawns on me how surreal these experiences really are, and then I move along. Because there’s still much to do, and it certainly involves all of me.

Off for now,