May 5, 2020

The Work Has Started at NY DINA College in Madagascar

Leveling for the Garden is Underway!
Leveling for the Garden is Underway!

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we wanted to send a brief update regarding Madagascar and the current status of NY DINA College.

It is good news to share that Madagascar has under 200 reported COVID-19 cases nationwide and no deaths as of May 4, 2020.

Madagascan President Andry Rajoelina began easing the lockdown measures in the capital of Antananarivo as well as the other two major cities, Toamasina and Fianarantosa, on Monday April 20 with the resumption of public transport between the hours of 06:00 and 13:00. Schools, including NY DINA College, reopened on May 4 and in accordance with the new requirements all of the students have masks.

Work is also underway at NY DINA College with the leveling of the land for the school garden. The dirt collected from this process will be used to construct a perimeter wall around the school grounds to help keep wildlife out of the vegetable beds.  All of the donations that BBS receives are designated for the creation of the gardens as well as to kickstart their egg production.

On a related note, NY DINA College received further funding, separate from BBS, specifically for building a soccer field and outdoor activity area. The ground has been levelled for the sports area and the next step is building a small number of bleachers. As with the garden leveling process, the dirt collected from this activity will be used to build the perimeter wall.

Work continues on the perimeter wall and as we receive more updates and photographs from Madagascar we will continue to forward them to all of our supporters.

Thank you again for helping to make this project possible!

Where the Vegetable Garden Will Be
Where the Vegetable Garden Will Be
Another Look at the Leveled Garden Area
Another Look at the Leveled Garden Area
May 4, 2020

Progress Being Made Through Drought and COVID-19

Water Testing
Water Testing

Operating in the Pak Song region of Thailand, the Thai Child Development Foundation (TCDF) supports special needs children and young adults in several capacities.  First, through their school which provides a range of classes including for the older students’ skill capacity building.  Secondly, medical care and lastly social support programs.

The long-term objective of TCDF is to be self-sustainable by 2025 and an important component in achieving this goal will be their farm operations. Their farming operation currently includes a range of fruit trees such as coconut and banana, vegetable gardens, a mushroom farm and egg production.

In addition to selling the produce at the local market, what is grown and the eggs feed the school children plus all the guest who stay at their eco resort. Eco-Logic Resort is the major revenue stream for TCDF and is a family-friendly resort that focuses on nature, yoga, wellness as well as volunteering at TCDF.

As demonstrated above, the farm operations are critical to TCDF and touch on every aspect of the organisation.

Water Management Needs

The farms’ current water system can be characterised by broken irrigation pipes due to crossing neighbouring properties to reach TCDF, shallow wells and a lack of proper water storage.

The focus of the work BBS is supporting, which is also the focus of the GlobalGiving campaign, is the creation of a comprehensive water management system.

BBS along with an internationally recognised Australian irrigation company, created a water management system that will address their current challenges and manage future requirements as they expand their farm. Special attention has been paid to ensure that the water system will be easy to operate (allowing TCDF staff to be trained on monitoring and managing routine maintenance) and will rely on easily accessible and less expensive domestic parts.  Care was taken during the planning process to avoid future situations where importing replacement components from overseas was required because of the cost and the potential downtime of the system which during the dry season could lead to untold crop damage.

In addition to the Australian firm, a Thai irrigation motor company will be conducting an on-site visit to TCDF to reconfirm the feasibility of the drafted plan and also to provide feedback/ideas to improve what is designed.

Two Current Challenges

Drought – Thailand has encountered one of its most severe and long-lasting droughts in decades.  The result is that whatever water was stored has now used up in the care of the trees and gardens.  Some rain has been reported the week of April 27 which should provide some temporary relief.

COVID-19 – The outbreak of COVID-19 lead to the Thai government closing all schools as well as tourist hotels and resorts, a double impact on TCDF.  The current government plans have a tentative reopening date for resorts in early July although that timeframe does seem optimistic and is being closely monitored.  In addition, the Thai government has prohibited internal travel which means that we need to wait for the Thai corporate partner to go to TCDF for the feasibility survey.

Progress is Happening!

In spite of the above two challenges, progress is being made!

A plot of land on a recently acquired mountain side piece of property has been cleared and will be the home to more fruit tree saplings including the addition of several new varieties.  Planted trees include black pepper, coconut, coffee and banana. This newly tiered property is included in the draft system and the greatest challenge will be moving the water uphill in an economical way.  Until the system is implemented, a temporary water storage tank and drip pipes have been set up on the hill top for the saplings.

Water testing was completed, and the results indicate that the current wells can indeed be drilled out that the quality of water is very high.

As mentioned, a Thai partner to provide the on-site support was secured.  While the original plan was for the work to be done by the Australian organisation as part of their CSR work, due to COVID-19 and the bush fires in Australia this is no longer possible.  The Thai partner will now step in and take over the installation.

Next Steps

As soon as the government allows internal travel, arrangements will be made for the Thai partner to complete the feasibility visit, report back and then incorporate any changes and/or recommendations.  Following that, the implementation timeline will be established and the necessary equipment including pumps and pipelines will be ordered.

Your Donation at Work

All donations received by BBS for this project are earmarked to support the purchase the irrigation motors, storage tanks and pipelines.  While the feasibility review still needs to be completed, the anticipated first purchase will be a PS2-1800 Solar Pump for the newly excavated mountainside property. A follow-up summary of the on-site visit will be reported back to all donors in future

Future Home to New Fruit Trees
Future Home to New Fruit Trees
Before Work Started
Before Work Started
Careful Measurements for Future Saplings
Careful Measurements for Future Saplings
Work Underway for the Future Fruit Trees
Work Underway for the Future Fruit Trees
Apr 29, 2020

Celine Cousteau Visits The Amazon's Javari Tribes

The town of Atalaia-do-Norte
The town of Atalaia-do-Norte

Tribes on the Edge is a documentary film which has served as the catalyst for The Javari Project, a multifaceted impact campaign created by Céline Cousteau, a filmmaker activist and supported by Business for Better Society.

As part of the campaign, Céline and a core team traveled to the Brazilian Amazon in November 2019, returning to the town of Atalaia-do-Norte bordering the indigenous territory of Vale do Javari.

While there they:

  • Screened the Tribes on the Edge documentary for the first time to the indigenous community members as well as the Atalaia-do-Norte community and schools 
  • Met with local and indigenous leaders to discuss, assess and strategize the implementation of the Javari Project.
  • Brought two DJI Mavic Pro drones to train and donate to the FUNAI government staff to use for low flying short range surveillance of illegal activities. 

The donations received by Business for Better Society from the a film screening in Victoria, BC and through GlobalGiving, went into the purchase of the drones that were delivered in November 2019.

What is the DJI Mavic Pro drone?

The Mavic Pro is a small drone that can fold down to the size of a bottle of water.  It has a tremendous number of advanced innovations such as 3 active tracking modes, better hovering precision, advanced 3D collision avoidance technology, gesture guidance, intelligent flight modes, including variant ground level flying and much more.

The camera is stabilized by a gimbal system of 3-axis mechanical components, which keeps the camera steady for smooth videos and clear photos, paired with the incredible camera. The shutter speed is 8s-1/8000s with an image maximum size of 4000 x 3000 total.

Next Phase in The Javari Project

Next phase of this project starts with a fundraising campaign and a goal to reach US$125,000.

The objective of this phase is to support the livelihood and well-being of the Indigenous Peoples of the Vale do Javari through leadership, education, and vocational training programs in collaboration with Cultural Sanctuaries Foundation. 

This project phase will be broken into three components.  First, we will improve and enhance the usefulness and use of the Javari Indigenous cultural centre in the border town of Atalaia-do-Norte. Secondly, the renovated Javari Indigenous cultural center will be used for cultural, linguistic and vocational workshops curated in consultation with and guided by the wishes and needs of the community. Third, we will focus on creating an outreach program that will provide isolated communities in the Javari with access to the information shared at cultural workshops. 

COVID-19 Update

On Friday, April 17, 2020 an important milestone was reached when a Brazilian judge banned a group of Christian missionaries from entering a vast Amazon indigenous reserve with the world’s highest concentration of isolated tribes, citing risks from the coronavirus pandemic as one of his reasons.

Indigenous leaders and activists hailed the decision as “historic” and expressed hope that it should help protect the tribes in  the Javari valley.

The judge in his ruling, referred to articles and data about isolated groups’ vulnerability to common diseases that decimated their populations in the past and authorised police and army to expel any of the missionaries found in the reserve. 

To date, Brazil has so far seen three confirmed Covid-19 deaths among its indigenous population. Brazil’s indigenous populations are particularly vulnerable because most indigenous communities lack drinkable running water, and live days-long journeys away from even poorly equipped hospitals.

Members of the Tribe Met in November, 2019
Members of the Tribe Met in November, 2019
Children in the town of Atalaia-do-Norte
Children in the town of Atalaia-do-Norte


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