Giving back: Building a school for the children of ylang ylang harvesters

By Jennifer Ferring

“Bonjour Mademoiselle Jennifer!”

This was the enthusiastic greeting I received from fifty children in unison when I arrived at their new school in the northern Madagascar town of Ambohimena last fall. I was visiting to attend the dedication ceremony for the school, which was built through funding from Aura Cacia’s 1% Fund.

Aura Cacia One Percent Fund

Jennifer Ferring poses with students at the Ambohimena school, built for the children of ylang ylang harvesters in Madagascar through the Aura Cacia Organic 1% Fund. The fund gives back 1% of sales on Aura Cacia’s organic products to support organic farmers and their communities.


Rambunctious yet well-behaved, the children looked just like any other group of kids I’ve seen in schools: learning, laughing with each other, playing games and singing songs at recess. Their mothers, meanwhile, harvested the ylang ylang flowers in the fields next to the school.

This scene was the culmination of a project that began many months before, when I began working with our ylang ylang supplier and the not-for-profit FJKM to build the school and hire two teachers. Seeing the school with all the children (who knew my name!), and attending the dedication the next day, was thrilling and exciting.

I’d been to Madagascar before with Aura Cacia – in fact, it was the first sourcing trip I went on and the first place I’d ever traveled where I felt “off the grid.” So, Madagascar has always been a bit magical to me, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to share the wealth and give back to the people there.

For a glimpse of the excited children now in school in Madagascar, check out our video and photos of the dedication ceremony and school visit. To learn more about how we funded this project, visit our Aura Cacia Organic 1% Fund page.

About the author: Jennifer purchases essential oils, raw materials and packaging for Aura Cacia. She enjoys traveling the world in search of goods that are high quality and sustainable, and that lead to healthy, happy lives for all those involved. Jennifer is currently pursuing a Master’s in Business Administration at the University of Iowa. Outside of work and school, Jennifer enjoys hunting for treasures in antique shops and doing home improvement projects.

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