Play Your Part

service

I love helping people and for the next week I’ll be “off the grid” so to speak. One of the reasons I feel driven to head to Madagascar is because I feel that one of the best ways to explore the world is through being in service to the cultures you visit.

There are many other ways to volunteer though from social work, to research and conservation to education. I’ll be spending the next week volunteering my time and energy with a personal development camp. A wonderful opportunity for 400 adults to come together in the wildnerness and learn a little more about harnessing their power and use it to create the lives they want. Why is this important work for me? Well it helped me. Those that knew me 5-6 years ago know that I was an angry, depressed, unmotivated, smoking, drinking mess. Those that know me today know me to be quite a different person and one of the biggest shifts for me was through meeting the wonderful people and being inspired by some of the perspectives at one of these events. I owe much of who I am now to those volunteers 4 years ago that helped support me through my shifts. I’m now a new man that wishes to spend his time supporting others to reach a similar place of self love and empowerment if it’s something they choose.

    The quickest route to happiness is to help others. ~Mingyur Rinpoche~

Some people see volunteering as working without getting paid, others know that it means taking responsibility to show up and do the work that would otherwise not get done. It’s being an active participant of this planet to support it’s healing.

I will end this short post with a question. How do you volunteer? How do you contribute? Where do you show up and what do you do? Honestly, please share here. It’s an opportunity to celebrate yourself for showing up and playing your part.

Much love,

-Drew

Drew Mac’s Madagascar Mission to Support Reef Restoration

P.S. – Remember, Play Your Part

The Game of Gratitude

if-the-only-prayer-you-said-in-your-whole-life-was-thank-you-that-would-suffice-400x400

Today’s blog entry is going to be a bit different than the last couple, as I enjoy writing for 2 reasons. I love being able to take knowledge and share it with the world, but even more I love to be able to empower people through my own words and experiences.

Philosophical discussion especially is one that always brings me joy because with so many perspectives in the world, these conversations provide such a wonderful platform to receive so many “big picture” moments. There are a variety of lessons I’ve picked up through these conversations, but one of the biggest game changers for me was the understanding that gratefulness is the key to abundance. I have always thought that the only difference between being spoiled and being abundant is my gratefulness for what shows up. If we are not grateful for what we have how can we possibly attract more into our lives?

This week my heart has become especially open with gratitude for the people that have shown up in my life. As many of you know, I have been spending a lot of time working on fundraising for a voluntouring trip to Madagascar, (check out the fundraising link below,) and the people that have shown up to support has inspired me to write.

I dozed off last night while planning this post and how I would execute it, I had a dream. It was my birthday party (which I’ll actually be celebrating tomorrow) and the party in my dream turned into an episode of “This Is Your Life.” Now, I should preface this with the fact that I have a large family and still keep in touch with many friends from high school, previous jobs, volunteering, spiritual retreats & workshops and my circle of bar buddies (to name a few.) This dream was full of faces, old and new, that have peppered my life over the years with laugh, love and support. It reminded me of just how much joy these people have brought me. So this post is to say THANK YOU. THANK YOU for being a part of my life, THANK YOU for showing unbelievable support and THANK YOU for simply being you. I have acquired to many wonderful relationships over the years that have shaped me into the individual I am today.

Immediately after waking up from my 1 1/2 hour long cat nap, I received a message from a very good friend of mine.

In honour of your awesome and inspirational self I have decided to donate all the tips I earn the night of your birthday! Your birthday is supposed to be a lucky day for you AND as I find the universe often works in amazing ways when it comes to financial support and serving…who knows what will happen 🙂

This is an example of the kind words and support that have been showing up.

Why am I sharing all of this?

I can sometimes not say “Thank You” enough. It’s easy for me to become caught up in my day to day life and forget how important it is to stop and let people know how much I appreciate them. Since the people that are a part of my life are the reason I am who I am today, It’s important to me that they know how much I appreciate their presence in my life and that I also understand that I am fully grateful to have them in my life.

Tomorrow, when I celebrate my birthday, my celebrations will be dedicated to the people, past an present, that have shaped my life. Those I have laughed with, cried with and most importantly, those I have danced with.

Much love,

-Drew

Drew Mac’s Madagascar Mission to Support Reef Restoration.

Food for thought.

Life on the water

Some of you may be familiar with the Chinese proverb, “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime.” This statement is accurate for Malagasy life in Southwestern Madagascar. In my previous post, Oh The PLaces You’ll Go!, I discussed what “Voluntouring” was, why it’s important and some of the “Voluntouring” I will be participating in with in a few months time, supporting the reefs off the coast and the Vezo people who depend on them for survival. I’d like to take an opportunity to introduce you to this Malagasy tribe and show you what makes them such a beautiful and inspiring culture.

    Who Are Vezo?

The term Vezo is defined as, “the people who fish.” It’s the term used to describe the semi-nomadic people of Southwestern Madagascar that have adapted to a life of depending on the sea for food. It’s also important to note that the term Vezo is not intended to identify an ethnicity, but rather a way of life. The ocean is important to their survival. Since they are less an ethnicity and more of a culture, it’s impossible to know their numbers and so their populations are estimated by the number of dugout canoes found along the shorelines.

Family and tradition are both important to Vezo culture. Typically they depend on the strong and healthy to take care of the old, sick and dying. Family is important because it’s how Vezo pass on knowledge of fishing areas, access to resources and equipment. Ancestry is also important to their livelihood, as it is ancestors whom are responsible for the success and failure of obtaining a good catch so it’s very important to give appropriate thanks through ceremony when a catch has been particularly favorable, especially when catching rare species like shark, dolphin or whale.

Vezo not only depend on the ocean for food, but as means for sale and trade. Typically the men will spend their time on the water in search of fish and the women will harvest the sand flats for invertebrates as well as sell or trade the catches the men have brought to them.

    Why do Vezo need support?

Over fishing is something that affects all of the world’s oceans. Regulation is hard to enforce around the world and although many first world countries have developed fishing regulations, Madagascar is still developing as a nation and doesn’t have many similar regulations and rarely enforces them.

Vezo have been the main navigators of the channel that separates mainland Africa from Madagascar, but currently more and more commercial boats are showing up to reap the benefits of these waters that are home to a diverse collection of marine life. As such, Vezo have had to adapt their fishing methods to better compete. Sometimes these methods can deteriorate the family and community culture as many Vezo will to isolate themselves & families to find fishing space not dominated by commercial fisheries or other locals. Sometimes these fishing practices are unsustainable.

Unsustainable fishing means fishing practices that will be unable to sustain themselves if they continue moving forward the same way they have been practiced. Currently unsustainable fishing practices, local and commercial, are having an affect to the marine life in Southwestern Madagascar. These negative affects are seen in the devastation of coral reef systems, the platform of which entire ecosystems are based. The negative effects are also seen in the dwindling numbers of species that have a hard time repopulating themselves. Species like Sea Turtles, Sharks, fish and even invertebrates.

Enjoy this video of an interview with a local Vezo talking about why marine conservation is important to him. Videos like this provide great perspective, which is important because with perspective we provide a basis of fair and balanced judgement. Not judgement of others but judgement of our actions and how we can best serve these world cultures, the lifestyles that sustain them and the ecosystems that sustain us and them.

    How can I support Vezo and the ecosystems they depend on?

ReefDoctor is a non-profit organization in Madagascar that is working to educate Vezo on sustainable fishing methods and how to respect the populations of these species so they can continue to provide food for their communities. Through conducting water quality and fish population research as well as cutting edge artificial reef restoration techniques and their education efforts, Reef Doctor is a major contributor to the marine conservation of the area while still preserving the culture of the people who live there.

You can support ReefDoctor through the support of those that wish to volunteer their time and energy on these initiatives. One of the reasons I will be heading there is that I know my volunteer fee will support the operation costs of their organization and the work I will do with them will compliment these costs. Please take the time to head to my fundraising page below and check out what I am fundraising for and some of the rewards granted to those supporters. Or you can simply share this blog or my fundraising page in your circle of influence if this is work that you feel passionate about supporting.

Drew Mac’s Madagascar Mission To Support Reef Restoration

Another way you can support Vezo and their food sources from another corner of the world, is through sustainable seafood choices. For example, the Vancouver Aquarium is another non-profit organization that started a program in Canada and the surrounding United States called Oceanwise Through labeling menu and marketplace seafood items with it’s logo, diner’s know that what they are choosing to eat is seafood that was caught sustainably. It also provides a cohesive list of seafood choices on it’s website and Apple App that lets browsers know what seafood species are sustainable or not, empowering people with the knowledge to support marine conservation and still enjoy the food they love.

Life on this planet starts and ends with the world’s oceans and the better we take care of those oceans the better we can preserve the life that lives in them and the life that depends on it for survival, which includes us.

-Drew

Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

Some people travel to lay on beaches and be waited on, some travel to see sights, and others travel to find the most unique experiences that give them a real taste of immersion into other cultures. Some simply want something more from their experiences and wish to support the people and environments of the places travel through. Fortunately, there is another way to see the world.

VolunTOURing is a method of travel that has become increasingly popular over the years. Instead of spending money on a tour package to be carted around a country, that money would go to a not-for-profit organization to support their costs of operation and allow eager travelers a chance to do charitable work. This work can be environmental or social, depending on the organization and personal preference. The cost of volunteering will usually cover room and food while on site.

Why would someone choose to spend their money and vacation on working? Many reasons. Voluntouring provides experiences that no other form of travel can provide. That experience could be educational, career based or simply the joy of doing something that few people worldwide get the chance to do. Plus, imagine the sense of fulfillment that work like this could bring.

“Welcome to ReefDoctor: ReefDoctor is a UK-based, nonprofit marine conservation organisation conducting coral reef research and implementing marine management, education and social development with local fishing communities in the Bay of Ranobe south-west Madagascar. A commitment to sustainable conservation and positive social development is at the heart of all our activities”

3 years ago I stumbled upon a not-for-profit organization called Reef Doctor, whom are doing marine conservation & social work in Southern Madagascar. Their program provides volunteers the opportunity to participate in reef restoration efforts, fish population research and social work with Vezo people, the local community of fishermen and their families. The program also provides an opportunity to certify it’s volunteers as divers. As someone who works with a marine conservation and science centre and a personal interest in marine life, world cultures and travel, this was not an opportunity to pass up.

This autumn I will be travelling to Madagascar to do volunteer work with Reef Doctor for 2 months. This is a huge opportunity for me and I am beyond excited for it. I will be spending the next 2 months working hard to raise the funds to support an endeavor of this magnitude. If the work that Reef Doctor does is something that speaks to you then please follow the link to my RocketHub fundraising page to learn more about why I’m raising this money, why this work is important to me and some of the neat rewards I’ve set up as initiative to those that do choose to support my goal. The money raised will go directly to travel costs and the volunteering fee that Reef Doctor charges.

Drew Mac’s Madagascar Mission to Support Reef Restoration

I look forward to the experiences that fundraising a project like this will provide me and also look forward to reaching my goal and supporting conservation efforts across the globe. Stay tuned here for updates on the project as well as some articles about Madagascar, Vezo people and some other cool stuff headed your way.

Thanks for reading, and just to keep things light and mildly relevant enjoy this video. Hopefully it inspires you to grab hold of your aspirations or simply smile a little as you head into your day.

– D