Friends of Mandritsara – Volunteers

d. Things to bring – Workers

Things you must bring

Please note: this page is wriiten from the perspective of Mandritsara, not the UK; hence, bring, here, etc (and not take, there, etc).

  • For health professionals coming here to work, please bring a CV, your original qualification certificates and evidence of registration with the medical authorities in your home country, so that you can register with the medical authorities here in Madagascar
  • Nurses and midwives should bring a uniform – whites for nurses, scrubs for midwives
  • If you plan to drive, bring your original Driving Licence – this is valid for six months here. After that you will need to apply for a Madagascan driving licence which the office in Tana can help you with.
  • Clothes for warm/hot weather – thin cotton (see below)
  • A dictaphone for language learning – click here for example
  • A good sunhat or two

Things to consider bringing

Most items for daily living can be purchased in Mandritsara. However, there are some things you cannot purchase here, and there are extra things you would not normally require at home but will require here. So you may wish to pack:

  • Sunscreen – high factor (available in Tana, but expensive)
  • Deodorant (available in Tana but you may wish to bring some you know works well!)
  • Specific toiletries – You can get quite a lot in the supermarkets in Tana;  soap and toothpaste in Mandritsara; but if you have a particular brand you use you may want to bring this.
  • Sanitary protection (you can buy tampons and towels in Tana but more expensive than home, you can get towels in Mandritsara)
  • Foot scrubber
  • Hair cutting scissors / clippers
  • Anti-mosquito spray/lotion
Medical supplies
  • Malaria prophylaxis (see details below)
  • Any long-term medication you need (you can get antihistamines and antibiotics at the hospital)
  • First aid kit if you’re planning to travel
  • Travel sickness tablets
  • Insect bite cream
  • Contraceptives – the hospital has the combined pill (microgynon) and also the contraceptive injection, Depo Provera, which is given every three months

Some western-style clothing can be shocking to people here and so, as we seek to respect cultural expectations and interpretations with regard to the way we dress, we ask you to please be aware of the following dress code when packing

Normal, everyday wear:  It is quite normal for both men and women to wear long shorts, or trousers, for general wear.  Tight and revealing clothes are not acceptable, for example women should not wear vest tops, short t-shirts which reveal bare waists, or short skirts or shorts – even for sport.  It is common for both men and women to wear sandals, flip-flops and trainers.

For work situations (especially with patients): women may wear short-sleeved shirts or blouses with a modest, non-revealing neckline. Smart cropped trousers or knee-length shorts and skirts can be worn for work. Vest tops or tops with straps are not acceptable. Men should wear a shirt or polo shirt with smart shorts or trousers.  Nurses and midwives should bring a uniform – whites for nurses, scrubs for midwives.

For church and formal occasions: women should wear a below-knee skirt or dress, and men should wear trousers and a shirt or polo shirt.  For other formal occasions, or visits to villages, it may be appropriate for women to wear a lamba (a Madagascan sarong) which can be borrowed or bought easily in Mandritsara.

It is advisable not to wear expensive jewelery here in Madagascar. Men should not wear jewelery other than a wedding ring.

It can get down to freezing between June and August in Tana at night so you will need warm clothes if passing through at this time of the year and especially if travelling to/from Mandritsara by road.  A light fleece / jumper will be enough for the mornings and evenings in Mandritsara during these months.

Bring a waterproof if you are going to be here during the rainy season (Dec-Mar) or if you are planning a trip to the rain forest.

Please aim for modesty at all times.

Malaria prophylaxis and vaccinations

We recommend you take anti-malaria tablets (chemoprophylaxis).  Discuss the options with your GP/practice nurse.  Make sure you complete the course once back in your own country.  Doxycycline, Proguanil and Chloroquine are available to buy at the hospital.  Doxycycline is very cheap so you may only want to bring enough for the first couple of weeks and then buy the rest here.

Please note that mosquito nets are provided in all accommodation

We recommend that you are up-to-date with the following vaccinations before coming:

Diphtheria, Tetanus, Polio, BCG, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid and Rabies.

Electrical items
  • Digital SW radio – for international news – and FM for Malagasy radio
  • A torch (or two), and possibly a solar or wind-up rechargeable light
  • Camera and charger
  • Batteries (long life) or rechargeable batteries and charger
  • Surge protector for your electrical goods  – also available as part of a multi-socket extension lead in Tana
  • An unlocked mobile phone and charger (also available here – see ‘Communications’)
  • Adapter plugs (European with two round pins and an earth point) – depending what electrical goods you are bringing – you can always change plugs here
  • An external speaker for your iPod and laptop, plus speaker lead
  • USB sticks and/or memory cards – useful for sending photos back home when others leave
  • Christian books / commentaries – there are quite a lot already here, so check before bringing any non-essential ones
  • Novels – there are quite a few here already in the guesthouse to borrow
  • You could consider bringing a Kindle with books, so saving space and weight; many free or almost free books available. (Note: the Kindle reader for a laptop expires after three months and it is not possible to restore it with the low bandwidth internet here).
  • If you are going to be teaching you may want to bring specific text books, materials, downloaded information and pictures
  • Medical books – we have a good library here, although there are more books in English than in French. ESFI, the nursing school, also has a library.  You may want to bring books which you will use every day specific to your job.  Ask about this with your contact person.  Note that many WHO books are downloadable for free (recommended: Pocketbook of Hospital Care for Children, Managing Complications in Childbirth, Managing Newborn Problems, IMAI District Clinical Manuals).
  • It is worth knowing that the Book Depository ( do free world-wide delivery and this includes free delivery to Mandritsara!
Contact lenses wearers

Contact lens wear can be problematic here, especially in the dry season due to the dust. We would suggest you wear glasses to avoid these problems.  However, if you would like to wear contact lenses, then we would recommend daily disposables to minimise the risk of infection.

Other items worth considering
  • Glasses and a spare pair
  • Contact lenses and solutions (see comments above)
  • Sunglasses (and a spare pair)
  • Sermons on CD/MP3
  • DVDs – you may want to check what is already here before bringing actual DVDs out.
  • A few specific food items such as packet sauces, flavourings, Marmite, tea, Christmas pudding or other things for Christmas, custard powder, hot chocolate and Horlicks sachets.
  • Favourite recipes (there are recipe books already here specifically for Africa/Madagascar which are very useful).
  • Pillows, bedding, pillow protectors if you want your own things.
  • Some Pound or Euro coins for tips at the airport in Tana.
  • Tupperware (whatever you can fit in!), non-stick baking sheets (silicon or Teflon), muslin (for straining milk, juices, yoghurt), J cloths, bag clips
  • Mosquito ‘zapper’

Timetable  —  Communications

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