I have to say that Madagascar was actually not on my list of countries from the 2016 census ( which is of course well out of date, but you need some reference point to start with). Yet having recently done interviews with people from Mauritius and Seychelles, Madagascar was a logical next step. It is also one of the world's largest islands, famous for its unique biodiversity and also possessing a diversity of cultural influences from Asia, Africa and Europe.
So it was particularly pleasing to meet such an ebulient representative of the Malagasy culture as Michaela was, and with such an interesting story, both in terms of her life in Madgagascar and her experiences settling in Tasmania and eventually developing the massage business that she has now. Her story of how and why she came to Tasmania is also quite something, you might even say like something out of a movie.
Michaela came to Tasmania in her 40s, and like many other migrants I've spoken to, came with a wealth of experience and qualifications, having worked extensively with international NGOs in her homeland for many years. But she faced a common problem of many, that her experience meant little in Tasmania's job market, and so, as for many migrants, she did some retraining and went about reinventing herself...kind of....
The fact is that Michaela did bring with her one particular special skill, as she described it : her "healing hands", or her massage skills, which she had honed informally in Madagascar. However, to make a career out of it here, meant doing further training and getting formally certificated. Her initial experiences working in a massage business were not the most positive, with exploitation and some potential illiegal employment practices ( sadly all too common, especially in regards to people on temporay visas ).
Ultimately though, Michaela developed the skills and knowledge to run her own massage business in Hobart, Malagasy Massage ( Malagasy Massage | Facebook), which is proving to be a success.
But this is just the most recent part of Michaela's story, and I would really recommend listening to the whole podcast episode to hear more about family life and some the realities of life in a small town or village in Madagascar.