Thanks to GlobalGiving’s endorsement Zahana is entitled to compete for the $10,000 prize money in the Ford Focus Global Test Drive. Another creative fundraising strategy to explore, we just submitted a video. Now we hope to get chosen with your help. If you are on Facebook and would like to support us, the steps are:Please watch the video “Changing lives in Madagascar” click on “love it” in the bottom and encourage all your friends to do the same. If we get enough “love its” we are in and get the $10,000. We only have until Dec 31, so procrastination is not an option anymore. (If this does not work just send me an email at email@example.com and I forward you the URL by email.) Not on Facebook? Ask somebody who is and most lilely spends more time on it that you wished for...
And while you are on Facebook why not “like” Zahana’s Facebook page as well? We are in the process of redesigning our own website www.zahana.org, to make it (hopefully) easier to navigate. Please visit if you get a chance and let us know what you think of the new look.Last but not least with the end of the (tax) year near, we hope you might consider Zahana in your giving as well. You may do so on-line from the links in this update, or you can as always send a good old check in the postal mail to Zahana (see website for details)
For the last minute virtual gift you could always download a Zahana Thank you card and make a donation in somebody elses’ name.Happy Holidays,Ihanta, Jeannette and Markus
Dear Friends of Zahana: This is a reminder: Thursday, December 16 is Bonus Day at GlobalGiving. Every donation is matched by 50% until they run out of matching funds. Last time GlobalGiving ran out of matching funds for the first time, so please donate early, if you can. We apologize in case you get this progress report from another GlobalGiving project. This issue is overarching and posted on all three. The latest Zahana report (Nov. 2010) illustrates our definition of “success” quite drastically: Background: In 2006 the community of Fiadanana built their own water system with help from Zahana. Zahana hired the water experts, who living in the village for two months, taught the villagers how to lay pipe from a ground well in the mountains over a mile away. Seven communal faucets provide clean, safe water to everybody all year round all over the village ever since.Report from Ihanta in Madagascar: “In Fiadanana where they got safe drinking water in 2006 through seven communal faucets, the impact is tremendous. A key reason why we found teachers willing to move to the village of Fiadanana was the availability of clean safe drinking water. It is the only village in the area that can make such a claim.Mparany, our Zahana teacher, reported that since he has been living in Fiadanana, no child’s death was reported. The only death in the village was a woman who had surgery in the hospital of Tsiroanomandidy for appendicitis some 2 months ago. Berthine, a member of the women’s group, confirmed that before Zahana in the “hard times period” (époque dure) between the harvests from October to December, it felt like almost every day one child passed away from diarrhea. (She said 26 deaths in 2 months.) She explained that people from Fiadanana now have to carry their water with them if they have to go to another village, since their stomachs don’t feel well drinking the water from the other villages.” (More in our November Newsletter.)It is Zahana’s guiding development philosophy to make life in the villages so livable and attractive that it is worth staying there with your family working the land. A lot of development problems connected with urbanization and sprawling slums attracting impoverished farmers can be avoided if people are not forced to leave for the cities in an often futile search for a better life.As you might plan your end of the year giving, we hope that you will remember Zahana (even if you missed “bonus day”). We have ready-to-use Zahana gift cards you can download off our Zahana website as a do-it-yourself project if you want to add a personal touch. Happy Holidays and thanks for your continued supportIhanta, Jeannette and Markus
Rule of thumb for our microcredit:
If you try it once it is an experiment; A second time if it worked well, as a promising approach; A third time it becomes implemented as a program.
For the second time, the ‘seed fund’ with potatoes has been a great success in our second village (Fiarenana). Each participant got 2 kg (approx. 5 lbs US) of potatoes in June. Potatoes had been planted after the rice harvest in the same fields that are currently being prepared for the next rice crop again. Each farmer was able to harvest between 20 - 40 kg of potatoes from the 2 kilos of seed stock, a great return on our initial investment of 200kg of potatoes. (See our website for last year’s experiment.)
In contrast to the last time farmers did not only eat all the potatoes in the “époque dure”, the hard time between rice harvests. Some sold potatoes in the neighboring small town to get access to much needed cash. In contrast, one farmer, who decided not to sell his crop said: “It does not make sense to sell potatoes in the market and turn around in the market and spent the money on buying rice to eat. So we ate all of our own potatoes instead and it was very tasty”. This is an amazing development in itself, in a culture where rice is the only food considered a “real” meal (see our webpage on rice).
This second time around the Zahana gardener in the village encouraged everybody to keep some of the smaller potatoes as seed stock for the next planting season. He also agreed to continuously cultivate potatoes all year round to test is they can be planted in other seasons as well successfully.
Zahana has recently hired Bary, a second gardener to work in the village of Fiadanana, or first project site where Zahana’s participatory collaboration started in 2005. Bary is currently being trained by our original gardener in the second village (Fiarenana) and shows an equally amazing green thumb combined with great enthusiasm in planting what he learned right away.
Both of them are growing new tree seedlings. The good news is that both gardeners are happy to experiment. This allows Zahana to introduce new seeds with the caveat that they might not be suitable for the climate, but there is only one good way to find out: grow it and see if it takes. Apples that have been requested by the gardeners are a good example. It is tricky to grow apples from seed that “fall true” or turn out to be a desired variety. To compound the challenge the climate might be too hot for apples, plants that like colder winters or higher altitude in a tropical climate. But with two adventurous gardeners it is much better to try planting apples and find out what happens. In addition Zahana is planting fast growing trees that can be used for firewood so people will not need to walk long distances and kill the existing trees. We are hoping this will help with the ongoing deforestation disaster in Madagascar.
Zahana’s seed fund also introduced new varieties of zucchini, beans and corn from a supplier that claims a 100% germination rate for their seeds. The first zucchini are already big enough to harvest and the corn and beans are doing very well.
In addition to the tree nursery and food crops for farmers, both gardeners are growing vegetables with the children in their respective school gardens. More about that on our website and the progress reports for the schools.
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
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