Felana Lantovololona is from Madagascar, the land of long-named people and lemurs. She decided to head to Bangor University for her master’s degree as she thought the relatively smaller, historic city on the north coast of Wales, would allow her to focus on her studies, and Celtic myths and histories of Wales captivated her.
I am forever grateful that Hub Cymru Africa and North Wales African Society have supported me in attending several webinars related to bid-writing, safeguarding and communication among others.
At the start of lockdown in early 2020, Felana decided to volunteer in order to make good use of her time and to gain some useful professional skills and experience. The lockdown limited all face-to-face volunteering opportunities which appeared as a bit of an obstacle. It was at this time that Felana remembered attending a Fair Trade event at the end of November 2019. The cooperation between Fair Trade and local farmers in Uganda inspired Felana to find out more about other activities between Welsh and African communities. This is when she emailed Hub Cymru Africa, of which Fair Trade Wales is a partner. Hub Cymru Africa was then able to find a volunteering placement for Felana with the North Wales Africa Society (NWAS), based in the same very same city.
All I wanted was to flee from boredom but in the end, I gained a lifelong friendship with Africans and Welsh people alike, pertinent skills and lifetime memories in the most wonderful place in the world.
Felana’s duties partly involved assisting NWAS in writing funding applications and financial reports. Her main role, however, was to help manage NWAS’ social media, and each day she would set aside 30–40 minutes to look for opportunities open to Africans in Wales. As the days went on, she found her purpose: raising awareness of opportunities available to the Black community in North Wales. Felana’s social media posts ranged from job opportunities or bursary offers to uplifting news. “In more than 210 posts, I want to believe that I have changed someone’s life and/or perception of what could be done in Wales.
Diolch yn fawr Cymru, Diolch yn fawr Hub Cymru Africa, Diolch yn fawr NWAS.