Aloha friends of Zahana,
Sometimes we get a photo we really like, such as this one (see below). Later we get a chance to talk with our partners in Madagascar and learn about a story we never imagined behind such a picture.
What you see:
Seven beautiful sisters in the newly community built school in Fiarenana.
What we learned:
The teacher told us that in this family with seven daughters, every day one of the girls is skipping school. Not attending school for any child being very unusual in Fiarenana, Zahana inquired with the parents. They explained that this is indeed the case. The reason being simple: While the parents are out in the fields working all day with the increasing help of the oldest daughter, somebody has to take care of the little one, not in school yet. Not to single out one child as a designated caretaker, they felt the fairest thing to do was to task a different daughter every day to be in charge of their little sister at home.
Ihanta, Jeannette and Markus
Jean our gardener with an amazing green thumb has expanded his activities. Besides continuing to grow trees saplings for the entire community, he is now actively involved in the school curriculum, teaching the children to plant vegetables, such as zucchini, tomatoes and carrots.
The vegetable beds were dug by a group of parents right after the official school opening in March (see that report for details) and the children have been planting and tending to the vegetables ever since. The only well (dug by Zahana), that has water all year round in the village is next to the school. The proximity to water makes it possible for the children to water their plants daily.
It is certainly easier to report about the opening of a school or the planting of trees, but on a more somber note, here is the latest sad news from Madagascar.
Our village of Fiarenana was attacked for the third time by ‘dahalo’, or cattle thieves, a few weeks back. They came into the village at night, shouting loudly, throwing stones at the house and firing gun shots in the air. People huddled inside their houses in fear for their lives. They stole 11 zebu belonging to the pastor and 2 other people in the village. Our contact in the village reported on the cell phone: “The entire districts is devastated and in a state of shock, most villages have been attacked and robbed by dahalo at night, something that we have never experienced before in our area. In the village next to us a 15 year old boy was shot dead”.
Note: Zebu are cattle and prized possessions in Madagascar. Poor farmers raise cattle as a living savings account. They need at least two heads of cattle to plow their fields and pull their carriages. Zebus are an important source of milk. For centuries zebu have had great cultural significance and are vital for funerals.
Guns are very uncommon in Madagascar and nobody in the villages owns any firearms or weapons. In the past cattle thieves were very uncommon in our part of the country and armed with sticks they occasionally stole a cow or two grazing at night far away from the village, scaring and making the child watching it run away. People in Madagascar, rooted in cultural traditions, do not go outside after dark if they can avoid it. Since the situation got more volatile, many farmers have gathered all zebu inside the village at night to guard better against cattle thieves, putting them at the same time as risk of a violent attack inside their village. Fortunately for Zahana, people do not feel that they are more prone to fall prey to dahalo because of their cooperation of working with us, the ‘outsiders’.
We apologize if you get this update more than once, but by the same token say: “thank you for supporting more than one of our projects on GlobalGiving”
Dear donor to our school in Fiarenana,
50% interest in one day? Sounds too good to be true? Not really: The GlobalGiving “Bonus Day” is a wonderful opportunity to ‘super size’ your donation to Zahana by 50% at not additional cost.
Thank you! It is your donation that makes our work possible. GlobalGiving has offered Zahana an opportunity to meet generous donors like you we would never meet or reach otherwise. We hope an event such as Bonus Day might entice you to give again, or encourage your friends and family to support our work in Madagascar.
How it works:
On Bonus Day (Wednesday, June 16) your donation to Zahana will be matched by 50% by GlobalGiving. This opportunity is a one-day only event, from midnight to midnight EDT on Wednesday June 16 (Eastern Daylight Time, not your time zone.) All three Zahana projects with GlobalGiving are eligible. (Yes, we will send this reminder again on June 15 and June 16.)
Yes, there is a US$1000 bonus again for the group that raises the largest amount of money and the one who finds the largest number of donors, so please help us make that goal.
The latest exciting news: Zahana was invited to participate in National Geographic’s (yes, the iconic yellow magazine) Global Action Atlas. The Global Action Atlas is a way for National Geographic’s readers to learn and get more involved with projects. With the reach of National Geographic, this is tremendous opportunity for Zahana.
Please visit the Global Action Atlas though our website. National Geographic tracks the click-throughs from our website and recognizes your effort by giving Zahana projects prominent placement.
This was made possible thanks to Global Giving. In April we had a chance to visit Global Giving in Washington DC and give a presentation about our work to the staff. Currently all Global Giving projects are listed on National Geographic’s Global Action Atlas.
Last but not least we have switched our newsletter to VerticalResponse (free to community benefit organizations) and you can find a link to it below.
Ihanta, Jeannette and Markus
The official opening of the school in Fairenana was celebrated on March 4, 2010, although school already started in January after the completed teacher’s training. As you see in the photos the surroundings of the school have been planted with flowers and the environment has been beautified for the inauguration. A well was dug in the schoolyard. It is currently the only well that still has water in the village.
Malagasy celebrations traditionally feature official presentations as did ours with speeches by community representatives and Zahana, performances by the students and food. Congregating around the flagpole, in front of their school, the students sang and recited poems as part of the festivities. A meal for the entire community followed the official opening. It was served inside the school for the community leaders and for the children outside under the gazebo.
To celebrate the official school opening books were presented and donated to the community by Dr. Noro, one of the Zahana supporters. These books are now are the first library ever in the village of Fiarenana.
After the celebrations the community came together to dig the beds for the future school garden. These beds will be planted and tended by the students to provide vegetables and fruit for the school food in the future. In keeping with the idea of a rural university these beds can also be used to test new crops or new seeds in a more “playful” manner, without farmers having to commit their valuable land to test something new they might have never planted or seen before.
Please visit our website for more information and photos about the school.
Thank you for your support!
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