"The BEPC (Brevet d'Etude du Premier Cycle) exam starts this coming Monday, August 3 from 3 to 5 PM. The test will be held in Tsiroanomandidy*. They will go to high school in Tsiroanomandidy if they pass the test. Once again, they will stay there by themselves like they were in Bevato for middle school. So let's pray for them they will be successful not just in school but especially as a reward for their exceptional behavior, they are so humble and understand where they came from. They are the best role model Zahana could wish for. As I couldn't be with our courageous students, our Zahana Santa agreed to do that for them. He is leaving the capital on Friday to drive them from the village of Fiadanana to Tsiroanomandidy and find temporary housing for them there. We already sent new clothes donated from my colleagues to them, everyone seems to admire our brave country-boys."Ihanta (Founder of Zahana)*Explanatory note: Tsiroanomandidy is the next (and only) bigger town in the area. Tsiroanomandidy can be reached via a paved road from the capital (a five hour’s drive) and has such amenities as a hospital, electricity and a high school. It takes about four to five hours to walk from Fiadanana to Tsiroanomandidy.
We have very exciting news: High school is so close for Donné and Doré, they can almost touch it. Both have been admitted to take the BEPC (Brevet d'Etude du Premier Cycle). The BREC is a nation-wide entrance exam for high school taken in July. Both have been living in the small town of Bevato attending the equivalent of middle school for the past few years (after they passed their CEPE), being first and second in their class almost every year since. We are confident they will pass their BREC with flying colors.Nine years after the opening of our school in Fiadanana, they will be the first in their community to ever attend high school. Currently they are at home in Fiadanana studying hard for the BREC, full of hope and expectation, since Zahana promised them we would support them all the way through university.
Madagascar has experienced an exceptionally devastating cyclone season in early 2015. The severe weather and rain caused a lot of damage. Our team had tried to visit our villages in late January to make sure they were OK after the first big cyclone. They were unable to reach the villages and the driver had to turn around, since the roads were impassable and unsafe. We later sent our founder’s nephew, a strong young man, who had to walk the last 20 kilometers on foot to reach our villages. “The roof and the door of our school in Fiarenana was damaged by the cyclone (it will be repaired by the community, financed by their school treasury). The parents’ association and students are in the process of replacing, respectively replanting, some trees in the school yard that were broken down by the cyclone. Some rice paddy were invaded by sand-flooding”Dr. Ihanta, Zahana’s founder, sent us this explanatory background note: “The weather was terrible and most of people were forced to stay in their houses most of the time. In our capital many houses collapsed due to the rain and mudslides on the steep hillsides. Unbelievable, but since January it was raining everyday. We learnt that the last previous similar flood in Madagascar was in 1959 and it was also very serious. Many of students came to the school in the hope of finding food (bad weather combined with the fear of starvation), so Zahana provide noodles for soup. On a happier note we have included the latest photos (taken with my nephew’s cell phone) of the food being served in the courtyard of our school in Fiarenana.” Note: if you look at the ground you can see that it is still very wet, even if the weather looks ‘nice’.
We got these great photos with the Christmas trees in our schools in Fiarenana. We have so many beautiful pictures, it is hard to choose just six. We let them speak for themselves.
Since 2006 Santa has been visiting our schools in rural Madagascar. This year he brought gifts with him of cookies, sweets, bread and clothes. About half of the lucky ones also got a doll or a toy car. And yes, Santa is impressive. He is probably the tallest Malagasy the children might ever see in their lives.
If you are in a position to decide about your end-of-the-year donation, we hope you will think of our villages in Madagascar and Zahana. Thank you!
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And to sweeten the pie, if you set up a recurring donation to Zahana, the amount of your December donation will be doubled by GlobalGiving (up to $200), making your gift twice as big.
GlobalGiving has an end-of-the-year campaign for 2014. To get one of the cash prizes, Zahana needs to raise at least $1,000 from 30 different donors. So if you would like to support e.g. our reforestation efforts you can do this with a few clicks and help us get closer to our additional monies goal.
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Since 2007 Santa has started his worldwide tour by visiting our schools in rural Madagascar. This year again his long-awaited visit was celebrated on December 20. You can see the excitement of the children (and parents), while they are lining up to receive their Santa gifts.
We wanted to share the pictures that arrived this morning via email with you. There should be more to come, but the reality in Madagascar can be challenging as this email from Monday, Dec. 22 illustrates: “the rain was so heavy yesterday cutting the power to all our devices, so I couldn't upload some new photos from Santa’s visit. I'll try to send some photos from my office tomorrow, if possible.”
Ihanta, Jeannette and Markus
PS: We updated our project page on GlobalGiving to reflect the changes since we first started trying to build a school.
And yes, it is the season again: If you are in a position to decide about your end-of-the-year giving, we hope you will think of our villages in Madagascar and donate to Zahana. Thank you!
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