A community school for all (children) in Fiarenana

by Zahana
Play Video
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
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

Links:

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Seed balls for reforestation
Seed balls for reforestation

The video of our dancing students should be this report: Created and choregraphed by our midwife they celebrate their seed balls. Please click on our YouTube channel link to view it, ideally before you read on.

We asked our partners for some cultural context: ‘Song and dance are integral parts of our culture. For any event like to cutting the first hair of a baby, for circumcision, death, exhumation or having public officials visiting a village. As song is part of our culture, a song will boost our kids to understanding of what they are doing. Loosely translated they are singing: hey kids let’s rebuild our earth by planting trees and we will do it in new style with the seed balls. Let’s build improved cookstoves and make charcoal with local stuff. By doing so we’ll make the environment healthy, the air will be fresh and our village green.”

Background:

In our last report School winter beak - and seed balls we introduced seed balls as part of reforestation curriculum. Our seed balls are rather large. More the size of a tennis ball then the more common ping-pong ball, or marble size.

The October 28 SMS (‘text’ in US-English) from our choreographing midwife: “50 students participated on the latest seed ball class. In Fiadanana they made 500 more today and in Fiarenana 393.” The result: 2750 seed balls plus the 893 from this week = 3643 and counting.

Now that seed balls are integrated in our curriculum we are ready and prepared to literally ‘field test’ seed balls in the next rainy season. With seed balls at hand now, we may get many more trees planted much faster, while we still continue planting seedlings grown by our diligent gardeners.

With more than a dozen seed balls per student, we hope they will demand to make many more, once they see how much fun it is to throw reforestation all over the landscape.

Ihanta and Markus

PS: The photo are from the days of the site visits by the team monitoring the progress as the students make their seed balls.

And yes, Novemeber 30 is #GivingTuesday. GivingTuesday is also a big day for fundraising at GlobalGiving and we hope you keep Zahana in mind and your wallet.

17-20 August 2021: 508 Seedballs reported
17-20 August 2021: 508 Seedballs reported
24 to 28 of August 756 seedballs reported
24 to 28 of August 756 seedballs reported
1 to 4 sept 524 Seedballs reported
1 to 4 sept 524 Seedballs reported
14 September 2021 226 Seedballs reported
14 September 2021 226 Seedballs reported
Seed balls dry in the sun for a day or more
Seed balls dry in the sun for a day or more

Links:

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Marking Seed balls
Marking Seed balls

Our newly introduced seed ball technology (see website and/or project report) can potentially increase our reforestation efforts many-fold, while it is fun for old and young.

Why teach making seed balls?

This idea is inspired by the lessons learned from our cookstove project in Tsaramandroso. There people prefer to make charcoal by hand, instead of using the mechanical ‘hand and hammer’ tool developed by Zahana. (More about that at another time.) While the hand and hammer is more efficient to produce charcoal bio-briquettes, making it by hand is something they can do ‘on the side’ while they sit around, relax and chat after a long day in the field.

Charcoal briquettes inspired the seed ball project

The plan: Get people together to make seed balls. In the workshop you learn about gathering and mixing the ingredients. Initially you use the tree seeds provided by Zahana, but are also encouraged to collect some seeds in your area. Soon everybody will be making their 100 seed balls while chatting away. Many people working together on a common goal and chatting is a great educational opportunity: you can talk about the importance of reforestation. Not as a boring lecture, but focusing on the positive impact of reforestation and the importance of trees for their children and grandchildren. And the role of collecting native tree seeds versus ‘outside’ trees for their seed balls. Especially grandparents are always interested in their grandchildren’s future. As elders, they themselves are respected teachers in their community. If they in turn are inspired to teach how to make seed balls the workshop becomes a train-the-trainers session.

That’s our theoretical frame work for our school seed ball education project.

Children are having fun throwing seed balls all over the landscape. If they only had enough seed balls they might play this game endlessly.

Around August, schools in Madagascar are on winter break for two months. This leaves our students with nothing to do, especially if they’re still too small to work in the fields with their parents. But it also leaves our teachers in limbo, because they are not working.

So, we started an experiment for the school break in 2021: The teachers work during the break. They get their students together in the school yard to make thousands of seed balls.  Our team already acquired tree seeds and delivered it to our schools. We encourage our teachers to think creatively and consider so many little hands forming seed balls together in the school grounds as a great opportunity for education. While they make clay seedballs the teachers can talk about reforestation, about the roles of trees in our lives, about washing hands etc.

Well, at least this is the plan for this winter break. Try something new, and literally field test if it works.

Two things are already guaranteed: it keeps our kids busy and out of mischief and our teachers gainfully employed. And if we end up with hopefully  thousands of seed balls we have over 200 volunteers that will most willingly throw them all over creation. This leads to the next exciting field test: do seed balls actually work? After all, only time and (hopefully) the next rainy season will tell. But having a few thousand seed balls for this experiment at hand to fling, sure can’t hurt.

Seed balls and clay
Seed balls and clay
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Getting ready to plant in the outdoor classroom
Getting ready to plant in the outdoor classroom

At a first look this photo looks like another reforestation story” I thought when I first opened my email. Little did I know that the story was much bigger. With very patchy Wi-Fi access in Madagascar pictures need to be send when it is possible, not when it is convenient. So, the story followed later, first by text message and then by video chat.

Right around the time the schools reopened from countrywide COVID-19 closures, we entered the beginning of the planting season. Earlier reports, during the school closure, talked about teachers and students getting more involved in (school) gardening under the supervision of our very own Donné.

In the second photo you see that the students are actually planting cassava. Once harvested, this cassava will become part of the school food. It is a very important step of making the school self-sufficient and have the students plant, grow and harvest as much of their school food as possible. Located on a hillside this land is not suitable for rice cultivation. Thanks for the generous offer of our gardener Bary, who owns it, the school can use it to grow food. Farming on a hillside requires terracing and is very labor-intensive, but with the help of dozens of little, energetic gardeners is easily accomplished.

Planting cassava as school food (with teacher)
Planting cassava as school food (with teacher)

Links:

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Donne in the new expanded school garden
Donne in the new expanded school garden

Many of you may remember Donné, the older of two boys who passed CEPE exam in 2009. Since then Zahana supported him through secondary and agricultural high school. He is the first one in his village to obtain a baccalaureate.

After graduating he took a few more specialized courses and decided to join Zahana as a substitute teacher and experimental farmer. A smart move - the COVID-19 pandemic was a few weeks away and finding a job outside his village might have been impossible.

Our understanding of ‘experimental farmer’: he draws a salary and uses his expertise introducing new crops in his experimental demonstration farm/school garden. Farmers are traditionally a stubborn bunch, talking about new crops is much less effective than growing it and showing it. Donné became a jack of all trades. His task: to exponentially expand the school garden to grow the food our students will eat in the future, while teaching the kids how to grow it. A paradox of COVID-19 is that the teachers did not want to sit idle around while their school was closed and got very involved in assisting him in the new school garden. School garden and reforestation go hand-in-hand, so the teachers also participated much more in the tree nursery. It was reported to us that many of the students lend a hand as well, illustrating once more that learning is not limited to a classroom.

Carrots and Onions

The crop of onions and carrots in the school garden are Donne’s pride and joy. We got quite a few photos of this novel crop.

Everybody in a Fiadanana was convinced neither would ever grow in this area. Onions generated the most buzz, because they are very much sought after and fetch a good price in the markets and the nearest town. Even the most stubborn traditionalist might see that there is more to agriculture than growing excusively rice and corn - if the price you fetch is right.

Onions do indeed grow here!
Onions do indeed grow here!
Donne growing vegetables for the (future) school's
Donne growing vegetables for the (future) school's
Look at these carrots!
Look at these carrots!
Carrots - a frist in this village
Carrots - a frist in this village
Onions do indeed grow here!
Onions do indeed grow here!
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
 

About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

Zahana

Location: Antananarivo, Capital - Madagascar
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @zahana
Project Leader:
Markus Faigle
Volunteer
Honolulu, HI United States
$46,012 raised of $55,000 goal
 
357 donations
$8,988 to go
Donate Now
lock
Donating through GlobalGiving is safe, secure, and easy with many payment options to choose from. View other ways to donate

Zahana has earned this recognition on GlobalGiving:

Help raise money!

Support this important cause by creating a personalized fundraising page.

Start a Fundraiser

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence

Snorkeler
Our
Impact

Woman Holding a Gift Card
Give
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle
GlobalGiving
Guarantee

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.