Maddy's Volunteer Fund

One man against the world, a hero against all odds single-handedly rising to a challenge and changing everything… It sounds romantic, inspiring, and maybe even a little patriotic.

But this is not reality. Our culture seems to believe that this kind of one-man heroism is the ultimate goal of success and self-worth. Then when the realization occurs that they may not be able to achieve it themselves, many feel there is no point in trying at all. I have known people that feel if there is no recognition of individual achievement, the act was essentially pointless. But this idea of standing alone and single-handedly making a change is really just a fantasy.

Gandhi once said, “Everything you do in life will be insignificant, however it is very important that you do it.”

It’s the combined effort of every individual doing what they can, however big or small, that makes real, long lasting change.

My name is Madeline Sausen, and I have always had a strong sense of social justice. This has guided my life and my goals so far, and is now taking me far away from home. I’ve been given the incredible opportunity to volunteer in Nosy Be, Madagascar. There, I will be taking part in marine conservation, construction, and teaching English to the local children and villagers. Please help support me in my journey to make a difference for the locals of Nosy Be.

I will be volunteering with IVHQ in a program located in Nosy Be, Madagascar. There, I will be taking part in a marine conservation project, lending my efforts in construction, as well as teaching English to the local children and villagers.

Madagascar is one of the most – if not the most – diverse and unique countries in the world. It is rich in medicinal plants as well as animal life, and due to its’ unparalleled ecosystem, many biogeographers have named it the 8th continent.  It is because of its uniqueness, its properties and natural resources are being exploited and it is disappearing and dying out very quickly.

One of the main reasons this exploitation is enabled is due to the population’s lack of education and extreme poverty. This affects awareness and the locals’ ability to make a difference, or even understand future consequences for themselves and future generations. A staggering amount of the population lives in severe poverty – 92% of the population live on two dollars a day or less. Because of this, many communities in Madagascar do not have the financial capability to build or repair community buildings. A large portion of Madagascar is in great need of new and improved infrastructure to help schools and communities function more productively. The locals and communities truly need all the help they can get.

In addition, many do not have access to education. Less than 65% of those 15 and older can read and write. This trend is continuing, with more children either dropping out of school or not having access to education. Unfortunately, this makes things more difficult for future job prospects, and also often leads to villagers unknowingly signing away their rights.  Learning English will give many an edge to create a stronger and more sustainable future, as well as increase their ability to communicate with tourists in Madagascar, who contribute a large amount to the local economy. Knowledge truly is power, and while there is great enthusiasm in learning English, there are limited opportunities for locals to learn from native speakers. This opportunity to teach given my unique perspective will not only enhance the lives and futures of the locals, but will give me key insight and experience I will take throughout my life and continue to give to others in need.


I’ve invariably had the desire to build a career in the non-profit world. After attending a semester of college, I realized it would be helpful to have some real-world experience in volunteering abroad. I feel that volunteering will give me a better understanding of what is really needed and how effective a group can be. This way, I will gain experience and understanding not only in theory, but personal experience with a direct purpose as well.

Previously, I’ve worked in a wide variety of random fields and jobs that seem to have no connection whatsoever, as most people my age do. I’ve worked as a trainer for people and their horses, I’ve worked as a restaurant hostess and I’ve worked with children at a family owned gymnastics and dance studio. As strange and eclectic as these jobs may seem, it’s within these jobs that I realized what really matters to me in life – a connection with people. Making a positive impact on a person’s life, no matter how big or small, is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. I truly feel that giving feeds the soul, and I intend on living this way to the best of my ability for as long as I live.

Everything that I gain from my experiences in Madagascar will stay with me on my future volunteering treks around the world. I know this will be a life-changing experience for me, and will shape my future. All that I earn and all that is generously given to me through donations will feed back into future projects and volunteering opportunities. I strongly believe that those who have the ability to take action have the responsibility to take action, and I intend to stay true to my beliefs. Madagascar is only the first of many.

Because of my financial situation, I am relying largely on the help and good will of others. With my age and experience, I do not have a large network of people or anything similar. However, I believe that people are naturally good and giving, and with today’s technology I have faith that people can become friends and neighbors even without literally being down the street. Please help begin a journey that will start a movement for future journeys and life to come.

All funds raised will help me pay for my flights (estimated $3,000), food, housing and program fees for Madagascar (estimated $4,000 for 6 months), along with travel insurance, visa and miscellaneous other requirements. I have saved a little under half of this, and am hoping to raise the other half from donations. Every little bit helps. Thank you for your consideration.
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Madeline Sausen 
Gilroy, CA
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