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”
Ihanta, Jeannette and Markus
Dear donor to our microcredit fund,
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 and you can find a link to it below.
Dear supporters and friends,
Despite the current volatile and complicated political situation in Madagascar Zahana is working in both villages. Our work is needed more than ever. This report by email from May 19, 2010 illustrates the impact of the economic crisis:
“The villagers got a good rice harvest this year, but what is sad is the price, they can get for it. During our last site visit the farmers complained about the price they could get for their harvest. This year they can only get of 360 Ariary per kg (less then 20 US cents per kg, or 10 cents per US pound), while it was over 600 Ariary per kg in 2009. To give you and idea what that means for them: to buy 1kg of sugar, 250 grams of salt and one small piece of soap they have to sale 10 kg of rice. This is beyond unfair, to grow that rice took almost half year, it is a way to kill the farmers and they will consider giving up planting rice at all.
To counteract this trend we decided on a small rice business project with the women’s group. They bought 2 metric tons at 400 Ariary the kg with the help of a generous donor. This time it is a business venture, not for our communal seeds bank. The plan is: the women’s group will sell the rice at a later date when the price will have gone up to 600 Ariary so they benefit from the price increase and can share the cash profit.”
Dear friends of Zahana,
One very telling example for Zahana’s seed fund is the potato crop introduced to the village of Fiarenana in late 2009. The villagers were provided with 100 kg of small potatoes as seed stock. Potatoes were one of new crop suitable for a diversified crop rotation recommended by the agricultural expert who visited the village in September (?) 2009.
Zahana implemented that suggestion, hoping the potato crop can be sold at the market to generate cash income for the farmers in a season where the rice seedlings are already planted, but the rice ‘cash crop’ is far from being harvested.
The community decided to distribute 2 kg of potatoes to each family. Lists were meticulously kept, and each family was instructed to pay back their ‘loan’ in potato seedlings after the harvest, therefore increasing the community seed fund.
The potato harvest was very successful and over two tons of potatoes were harvested in the village. The only major problem was, admitted the villagers with great embarrassment to Zahana in March, that instead of selling the surplus potatoes, they ate them.
This example illustrates what success means for Zahana. From a traditional microcredit point of view the project is a failure, because it did not generate additional cash income for the farmers as intended. From Zahana’s perspective it was a huge success, because people did not only increase the community seed fund enriching it with a new crop, but also had food to eat in the “époque dure” or the “hard times” period before the rice harvest. The fact the potatoes are very high in vitamin C, is a great public health benefit during the rainy season where people normally go hungry for many weeks.
Thank you for your support.
Ihanta, Jeannette and Markus
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