Meet Brad Bruder:
One would imagine that to travel half way across the world, you’d be excited to return home after one month. The truth is, after being in Madagascar for one month, it became my home.
This past summer, I embarked on a journey that would forever change the lives of the people of the Ambato Boeni community. Along this journey, I ended up changing my own life as well.
Upon arrival in Antananarivo, Madagascar, we were welcomed by the head of National Police and embraced by welcoming people. After a short 13 hour bus ride from this capital to the small community of Ambato Boeni, we were ready to get to work. The children of Ambato Boeni chased our bus as we entered the community, filled with excitement as to why we were there.
After a short sleep and an early start at 5:30 am, we headed down to the worksite. There we were greeted by several mothers of the community and welcome banners hung above our head as we entered the building zone.
Our project was to build a water tower and a second school building in addition to the first one built in 2012. However, the community of Ambato Boeni was so excited to have us come to build a school, that they had already laid down the base of the educational facility. This gave us a big advantage and we were able to build far more than originally planned.
In the end, we were able to construct the school building, a water tower, a fence perimeter, a compost system and 3 wells. This was only possible with the help of the community. From the moment we arrived, children joined us on the worksite to help make things as efficient as possible on the worksite. Many boys above the age of 8 would join us in construction after they had finished their day of work.
The community not only helped us on the work site, but they also made everything possible outside of the work site. We were welcomed to several events like their market day and their church services. And we created a soccer tournament thanks to chance to play. Because of this organization, I was able to donate a set of soccer uniforms to the mayor of Ambato Boeni, the Girl Scouts, two different Boy Scout teams and a set to the school which we had completed. In total, 80 sets of soccer uniforms consisting of 8 teams were donated along with 30 balls and 2 hand pumps.
So what did a typical day look like? It started by waking up at 5:30 am every morning to the sound of the community singing in the church across the courtyard. We got ready fast and traveled down to the worksite to be there by 6:00. We would have breakfast inside the old school which we bought from a local catering company and would then have a debrief as to what we planned to do that day. We’d start working immediately up until 12:00, the hottest part of the day which averaged 35-40 degrees Celsius. Usually more children would join us after lunch we’d be working again until 4 pm that night. We’d shower down at the worksite and clean everything up, as its pitch black by 6 pm. These work days however, proved to be the best experience of my life.
So why did I embark on this journey? It’s simple. The earth has existed for 5.54 billion years. Our life on earth is therefore considerably short. So the trick is, to try and create a large enough surge in your lifetime that it will ripple out for generations. I embarked on this experience because I’m in the process of starting my own organization, and this project was only the first of many positive impacts I plan in my lifetime.
Scouts Canada Youth Volunteer