This is a project report that is a great pleasure to post. It affects every facet of our work as it impacts everybody living in our villages. It is our great privilege and honor to announce that the Health Center in our village of Fiadanana has been officially inaugurated at the end of May 2014! As you cann see in the pictures and on our website, the students of Zahana's school played a key role in welcoming the visitors and dignitaries from governmental and regional agencies. Now, after an official ribbon cutting ceremony, the healthcare center is ready to see patients. One of our proudest achievements is that the new health center will host the community’s own traditional healer Raleva to work side-by-side with a Ministry of Health certified trained midwife. To have such a true healing center in our village has been a dream for the community and Zahana since our very first community meeting over a decade ago. (See health center’s groundbreaking 2013.)Raleva is one of the most respected and revered traditional healers in this part of the country. People travel far to see him and solicit his treatment advice. To honor him, and to pay him the respect that is due by providing him with a modern building where he can practice his healing art, is a very joyous occasion for Zahana. Zahana’s founder, Dr. Ihanta, told us laughingly, in a Skype conversation: “most people assume that a traditional healer is there to assist the Western trained midwife. I'm quite sure, in our case this will be the other way around and the Western trained person will work with or may be under the guidance off our highly respected traditional healer. We really like the English expression hand-in-hand to describe this relationship. Yes, we will, for instance, vaccinate all of our children with the help of the paramedic, or use antibiotics where this is the best treatment option, as part of integrating Western medicine in our Health Center. ‘Do no harm’ is our guiding principal in all of this”. This health center inauguration gives us again a great opportunity to showcase to everybody visiting our village the importance of access to clean and safe water. There are thousands of communities in Madagascar that desperately need access to basic healthcare, but the fact that our village does indeed already have access to clean and safe drinking water made the French NGO decided to build the health center in our village.Clean and safe drinking water remains the most effective public health measure for Zahana. It was priority #1 for the community, when we started with our participatory development in 2005. This is again illustrated in the fact, as Dr. Ihanta, Zahana's founder and a physician herself, said: "We don't need diarrhea medication or prevention, because we don't have diarrhea anymore, since the village has clean drinking water. For me as a medical doctor the most rewarding result is that no child, or adult for that matter, has died of water borne diseases, since we have clean water. It could well be that the villagers themselves are not aware of that, but for me as a physician and a parent, this is the most important and significant indicator I can think of. We determined this very important finding already over two years ago, and I am very happy this has not changed since.” Later in the conversation she added: “It is also a great savings for the Ministry of Health if we don’t have to spend money on medication or treatment of preventable diseases. This may not be too familiar for a Western audience, but in a country with scares resources this is an important factor”. As you can see in the photos, dignitaries and representatives from different branches of government attended our health center opening. The actual ribbon cutting was by a representative of the Ministry of Water. We thought it was very important to show them firsthand by having them come into our village, that a community built water system is not only feasible, but also working very well. (See water story.) It is a great honor for us and the community he was joined (in the photo) by the brother of the President of Madagascar and his wife.In some of the other pictures you see that Zahana was able to show to the visiting dignitaries the solar water pasteurization in action. The school of our sister village Fiarenana has been using solar water pasteurization successfully for over two years for all of the drinking water needs for their students. Since solar water pasteurization only works if the sun is shining, they have to resort to boiling water on cloudy or rainy days. Again, at Zahana we believe that seeing the results of our work might have bigger impact than just hearing about an abstract concept of solar water pasteurization.We have posted more photos on our website, since it is hard to choose only six from so many. It is especially wonderful to see all the students proudly welcoming the visitors to their village. Ihanta and Markus
Since three of Zahana’s students attend secondary school in Bevato, it galvanized the other kids in the village to attend school regularly. The three students have now been living for almost two years in Bevato, a two hours walk from their home in Fiadanana. They are walking home every weekend, to spend time with their family and help in the rice fields.
Seeing that it is indeed possible for their peers to graduate with a CEPE and pursue secondary education one village over, our students are now more willing to go far and study hard.
(See our website about more information on the CEPE the Certificat d'etudes primaires élémentaires or Certificate of Primary Studies).
For Zahana in our efforts of community wide education our school is one very important aspect. But there are also more immidiate and frighting educational moments.
There was a plague epidemic (yes, the bubonic plague) in Madagascar starting in November 2013. Zahana actively strengthened the fight against this disease through sensitization of our villagers. In the photo Dr Evelyn, the leader of Zahana's community health outreach program is explaining to the assembled villagers on how to avoid the disease and what to do if some symptoms may appear. Unfortunatelly some plague cases were been recorded in our region: in Tsiroanomandidy, the next town with a hospital, a four hours walk away. But we were very lucky and our 2 villages stayed free from the disease.
As a comment from us: It is always a good sign, when the reports from the schools are uneventful and children ‘just’ can go the school every day and learn (and eat). Here is a quick end of the year review we got from Madagascar:
Current Students enrollment in Zahana’s schools:
At Zahana’s school our head teacher Mparany, based on your recommendation, does not to accept children under 5 of age at our school anymore (in his single classroom). This has worked out very well for him, since he can now focus on teaching instead of childcare for little ones. The public school in Fiadanana also now also finally open and this way more children can go to this school as well, which is very good for us. The solar cookers in the schools are working all day.
In other important community news: the Health Center for Fiadanana is almost finished (see the groundbreaking in July). We just got this photo of an almost completed building, with our traditional healer Raleva checking out its progress.
Zahana’s head teacher, “Paran” (phonetically spelled) has been with us now for almost 7 years.
Malagasy names are very long and full of meaning. Here is a short explanation from our team in Madagascar: the name of the teacher: RANDRIANAMELASOA Andriamparany fits to his job: ‘andrianamelasoa’ means 'the one living good things'. and ‘andriamparany’ means 'the last in the sibling', but as I know he has younger brothers and sisters; it was maybe the plan of his parents at the time that he might be the youngest of their children, when they gave him his name.
Paran was the first teacher Zahana successfully hired for the newly built school in Fiadanana in 2006. Trained as a primary school teacher, he moved there from another area. He took part in the intensive one month long training in the village, to prepare them (see website) to teach in an environment where there had never been a school before.
Since then he has become an indispensable community leader, who put down roots in the village, starting his family. He is currently the director of the Zahana school program, supervising and training our teacher in the other village and our two teacher’s assistants. Has also taken a leadership role in solar cooking with the students. In collaboration with our gardener he has successfully grown many vegetables with the students that greatly enrich their school food.
We also feel it is important to point out, that our children go to school six days a week and our teacher only have Sunday off. Since our children want to go and to spend time in school, being their teacher is an all day affair, except for the month of July when the school is officially closed for summer break. Despite his work schedule as a teacher, Paran has been able to plant so many trees over the years that he was nominated for the third place, having planted the most trees in his community in our reforestation efforts. He was honored with an award for his efforts during the visit of the Minister of Health to Zahana’s villages earlier this year.
In July we had a visit from Madagascar’s Minister of health and our two villages! Read more about the visit on our website.
Despite her busy schedule the Minister of Health took time to honor our teachers for their efforts. She personally handed out awards two both of our teachers, their assistants, and Zahana’s gardeners. We have included the (avilable) photos of these events.
The Minster of Health gave a special award to the students of our school in Faidanana. They made the second place for planting the most trees as a small forest on the slope behind their school and in their school yard. The community decided that their efforts as a group count as if it would be a person. The students planted and watered the little trees and well deserve this award and the recognition.
They accomplished that with the guidance of Zahana’s gardener Bary, who besides working for the community also assists with the school garden.
In addition to the awards,both, Zahana’s gardeners and teachers were got one pack of t-shirt, a cap, a lavalava and a wall hanging clock.
All of Zahana’s students were presented with a t-shirts.
Ihanta and Markus
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