For this project report is about the opening of the health center in Fiadanana, we have chosen the planting of a tree as the cover photo. This photo is indeed especially exciting for us, because it shows that planting a tree to commemorate a key event has become an integral part of village life. Planting trees has become second nature and encourages us to believe that our reforestation efforts truly worked.
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! 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
There is just one good way to say this: This is a success!
Our overall goal, when we launched this ambitious reforestation project, now almost two years back, was to have green village. A village surrounded by green trees, where more trees are continuously planted than are harvested for firewood to cook food.
We are wondering the awards we already gave for the most trees still growing (not just ‘planted’) in the first and second year is an additional great stimulus to motivate our communities. (See our former project reports and our website).
But one thing is certain: Zahana has found the right way to promote this reforestation effort and the living proof is growing all around our villages.
PS: We hope that cyclone Hellen, that made landfall in Mardgascar March 31 will spare our villages.
In our world of constant Twitter, Facebook and YouTube feeds, it is an important reminder that not everything works - everywhere all the time - seamlessly. Dropbox is a marvelous invention. A few years back it made burning a CD obsolete plus saving a walk to the post office across town. Four weeks later the CD might drop in our PO Box at some time, if it didn't get lost en route.
But all this modern of technology only works if you have a constant power supply and a constant Internet connection. With blackouts, or roving brownouts in Madagascar, it is difficult to send large files with e.g. dropbox, if your Wi-Fi connection gets interrupted all the time. Hence, due to the lack of a constant power supply, the pictures that should have complemented the December project reports only made it across the oceans into dropbox a few days later and are included in this update.
We had been inquiring with our partners in the villages how they came up with such a precise count of 11,798 trees planted? Most people would say “almost 12,000”. But the secret is in the book (see photos). Maintained by our Zahana gardener each tree planted is meticulously recorded, with the number of seedlings and the name of the person who planted it.
Here is out previous report in case you did not get a chance to read it yet:
The awards ceremony for the three most successful tree planters earlier this year had a lasting result in our communities. In the village of Fiadanana the 2013 results are:
Fiarenana, our other village, is the leader in the reforestation efforts with 11,798 trees for this season! It is very encouraging for Zahana to see that the tree planting has indeed taken root in our communities. Please keep in mind that Madagascar is in the Southern hemisphere and it is summer and the dry season right now, when it is too hot to plant trees.
Fiarenana, our other village, is the leader in the reforestation efforts with 11,798 trees for this season! This ambitious goal has been set by 58 people in the village (with a population just over 300). They made a list with how many each of them will plant and the biggest committment is for 400 trees.
It is very encouraging to see for Zahana that the tree planting has indeed taken root in our communities. Please keep in mind that Madagascar is in the Southern hemisphere and it is summer and the dry season right now, when it is too hot to plant trees.
In other important community news: the Health Center for Fiadanana is almost finished (see photo) Details on our website groundbreaking in July. We just got this photo of an almost completed building, with our traditional healer Raleva checking out its progress.
Best regards and Happy Holidays
During the visit of the Minister of Health to our villages in July, personally handed out awards for individual reforestation successes. This important ceremony has reinvigorated great community interest in our tree planting efforts. Distributing these awards, made everybody see and believe that Zahana really meant awarding reforestation efforts, and sparked a sense of healthy competition. Zahana stated from the beginning that we will give awards in the first, second and the third year for most of the trees planted that actually take root and survive. Now the planting of tree seedlings can continue.
To take stock of our success so far, we have asked our two gardeners Bari and Jean to please reports back about the number of trees planted. Here are their numbers (as of October 14, 2013):
Planting trees Fiadanana:
2011-2012: 3,3172012-2013: 3,278
Reforestation objective for this 2013 season: at least 6,595 trees
Planting trees in Fiarenana, the village where our master gardener Jean lives:
2009-2010: 2,6292010-2011: 2,1292011-2012: 6,0922012-2013: 2,553
Total = 13,403
Reforestation objective for this 2013 season: 10,600
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