A community school for all (children) in Fiarenana

by Zahana
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A community school for all (children) in Fiarenana
A community school for all (children) in Fiarenana
A community school for all (children) in Fiarenana
A community school for all (children) in Fiarenana
A community school for all (children) in Fiarenana
A community school for all (children) in Fiarenana
A community school for all (children) in Fiarenana
A community school for all (children) in Fiarenana
A community school for all (children) in Fiarenana
A community school for all (children) in Fiarenana
A community school for all (children) in Fiarenana
A community school for all (children) in Fiarenana
A community school for all (children) in Fiarenana
A community school for all (children) in Fiarenana
A community school for all (children) in Fiarenana
A community school for all (children) in Fiarenana
A community school for all (children) in Fiarenana
A community school for all (children) in Fiarenana
A community school for all (children) in Fiarenana
A community school for all (children) in Fiarenana
A community school for all (children) in Fiarenana
A community school for all (children) in Fiarenana
A community school for all (children) in Fiarenana
A community school for all (children) in Fiarenana
A community school for all (children) in Fiarenana
A community school for all (children) in Fiarenana
A community school for all (children) in Fiarenana
A community school for all (children) in Fiarenana
A community school for all (children) in Fiarenana
A community school for all (children) in Fiarenana
A community school for all (children) in Fiarenana
A community school for all (children) in Fiarenana
A community school for all (children) in Fiarenana
Our stundets with their reforestation seed balls
Our stundets with their reforestation seed balls

In our villages there is no better time than the rainy season for our students to put their seed balls to the test in the landscape. You might remember that our students made thousands of seed balls in September and October of 2021 during our schools winter break.

The start of the long-awaited rainy season came late this year in Madagascar.  By the end of January and early February there was lot of rain in Madagascar, unfortunately far too much in many parts of the country, especially the capital. And we fear that there are more cyclones to come as we write this.

Note: Please watch “Reforestation with seed balls in rural Madagascar” our latest video documenting this historic occasion with our students for context.

In January 2022 our students started the fun project to throw their first 1462 seed balls into the landscape, as you can see in the first part of the video. They also took quite a hike up the mountain to our water tank that feeds our community built water system since 2006. On the slopes of the mountain our next generation of tree planters used more of their seed balls, this time more rolling than throwing it.

Our founder said: “Covering the mountain with a forest again has been a dream of our gardener Bary for many years. Carrying seed balls up the hill instead of baby trees is certainly much easier, especially if he has many little helpers to do it. It is also more fun for the students, than carrying shovels and digging holes for baby trees all day long. And planted baby trees need to be watered by hand to make sure to take root. In the next few months we will see if this technique works as well as we hope. The fertilizer (cow manure) added to the seed balls mix should provide enough nutrients for the seedlings to grow if they get watered almost every day by mother nature. We have asked each student to remember the place where they throw their seed balls, so they come come back and check on the progress every week”

Please stay tuned for more seed ball reforestation updates soon.

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Preapring the gift table in Fiadanana
Preapring the gift table in Fiadanana

The happy occasion is a big day: A few days ago, Santa visited the villages in Madagascar with gifts. Christmas is the big day children at our school await all year in great anticipation. This one special day they get their very own package of cookies (see photos.) Our team said: “just seeing excitement in their eyes as their faces light up, makes you happy to be part of it.”

In addition, they also got new clothes, something that has become a Christmas tradition by now as well. Another beautiful tradition is that Dr. Ihanta’s colleagues had been collecting clothes for Santa’s visit in the village all year long for quite a few years now. Despite the pandemic and they now being her former colleagues, they have been keeping up this tradition after she retired and many of the clothes you see on the gift table are from them.

Thank you for your support that makes out work in rural Madagascar possible.

Happy New Year




The best gardeners are also awarded prizes
The best gardeners are also awarded prizes
Let the show begin
Let the show begin

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Planting the new school garden
Planting the new school garden
  • We just got these pictures from Madagascar, thanks to our midwife’s husband. The pictures very much speak for themselves. Gardening and tree planting has truly become a part of the curriculum. During the pandemic lockdown our school gardens have taken over a lot of the space in the school grounds and are being planted again right now.

It came with the comment: “in Fiadanana our students are preparing their gardens as there is now a little bit of rain”. “Un petit peu de pluie” in French translated into ‘a little bit of rain’ is were the information is hidden.

The rainy season should be in full swing now since October/November. There should not be a little bit of rain. There should be a lot of rain that feeds the rice paddies and makes planting a new crop possible.

If we look at the bigger picture, the south of Madagascar is experiencing one of the worst droughts ever, leaving hundreds of thousands at the brink of starvation. And this might be the first drought caused by climate change. In the capital city of Antananarivo, the lack of the seasonally normal rains makes water a highly sought-after commodity in very short supply. This means in the real world: If you are lucky enough to live in a house that’s connected to the aging municipal water grid, you may turn on your faucet and not a drop will come out. Therefore, you need to wait in line for the water truck, pay for your water and carry it home in the ubiquitous big yellow 20-liter (5.5 US gallons) water containers.

We are concerned it could be another manifestation of climate change that the rainy season hasn’t really come yet in our villages in the high plateau either. All we can do is prepare the garden beds for the rainy season and hope for the best. Fortunately, we have a well in the school yard to water the vegetables the students will eat.

School garden in Fiadanana December 2021
School garden in Fiadanana December 2021
New garden beds being planted
New garden beds being planted

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A vegetable garden next to their house
A vegetable garden next to their house

The spirit of a family garden in Fiadanana came back” was the comment of our founder Dr. Ihanta, when she forwarded the photos in this report.

Sometimes you just have to wait a decade until people come around. Really?  Yes, really.

As you can see on our website, in 2013 people planted vegetable gardens next to the houses in Fiadanana, our first village.  We originally thought it is a no brainer to have a garden right next to your kitchen, that supplies you with fresh vegetables as close to your cooking pot as possible. Ihanta had bought little vegetable seed packages and Bary our new gardener distributed them among the people interested. It worked really well and the vegetables grew happily. But then the idea fell asleep and for reasons unclear to us, people stopped growing vegetables next to their houses.

Now the vegetable gardens are back. We are not sure yet if there is a correlation between the huge and beautiful school gardens, thanks to Donné, that blossomed during the pandemic lockdown. Or it could be Donné’s persistent teaching by example by introducing new crops, showing that onions and carrots do indeed grow in their soil, despite the poluar believe to the contrary. Whatever the reason, we are happy that the spirit of a family garden in Fiadanana came back.

And they send us the pictures to delight us.

Another vegetable garden
Another vegetable garden
The spirit of a family garden came back
The spirit of a family garden came back
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CEPE or not to CEPE?
CEPE or not to CEPE?

A while ago we got this rather dark and a bit blurry picture of some of our students. It took a while to get it at all, and we only got it by special request via our midwife, not the teachers. When we asked if we might get a better picture her response was: “They didn’t really want to pose in the daytime”, why becomes clear soon…

Not all project reports focus on success. This is one of them. In this (reluctant) picture you see are all our Zahana students who took the CEPE, (see website), the national primary school exam in 2021. Last year, in our October 6, 2020 project report 11 students took the CEPE test and all but one passed.

Much to the embarrassment of our head teacher this year the fortunes were reversed. 12 students took the test and one passed. He considered it a personal failure, and didn’t even want to talk about it (hence the lack of photos, because last year he took two dozen). To make matters worse only one student of our sister school in Fiarenana took the test and passed, therefore achieving a 100% success rate.

We tried to point out to him, that if the school is closed for 10 months of the year due to COVID-19 prevention restrictions, he could not automatically expect the same result as the year before. Not to mention the compounding factor, that in late 2020 the Ministry of education decided not to administer the CEPE as a nationwide test anymore and then reversed the decision. Consequently, giving him less than two months to prepare his best students by cramming in a 12 months curriculum - and it did not yield the results he had hoped for.

We guess this is another example how the pandemic can indeed affect people lives in rural Madagascar in more ways than one.

Monthly donors - the sweet smell of holiday candy

Thank you to all of Zahana’s current monthly donors!

Here is a sweet deal: GlobalGiving’s monthly donor drive from Dec 13 to 17.

Every monthly donation pledged in this week will be matched 200% in April 2022. This means you donate for 12 months, but Zahana actually get 14 months out of the year 2022.  How sweet is this candy cane, buy 12 get 14?*

Monthly donors, people who give a small amount every month, have become the backbone of our work in Madagascar. It gives us a reliable source of donations every month. It allows us to plan or budget for ongoing expenses e.g. salaries for our teachers and gardeners.  

Monthly donations frees us from the stress of having to raise our budget for 2022 in the month of December. Traditionally, in the USA over 80% of donations are made in December. Just imagine: you might get one big paycheck in December and had to make it last all year long. Plus, you don’t really know what this paycheck may look like until Dec 31, the big tax-day for end-of-the-year donations. Plus, if some other emergency (or a pandemic) gets all the attention in December, we at Zahana might just fall through the proverbial cracks.

Please consider becoming a monthly donor for Zahana from Dec 13 to 17. Thank you.

*Monthly donations are capped at $200 per month, and have to be actually made for 4 months to qualify, to avoid shenanigans

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Organization Information

Zahana

Location: Antananarivo, Capital - Madagascar
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @zahana
Project Leader:
Markus Faigle
Volunteer
Honolulu, HI United States
$45,832 raised of $55,000 goal
 
352 donations
$9,168 to go
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