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
Washing hands before eating at the school
Washing hands before eating at the school

Aloha friends,

May be in these strange COVID-19 times a movie documenting our work in Madagascar, now finally available with English subtitles as well, might provide a welcome insight in two rural villages in October 2019. The images of the school food in this documantary are from our second (smaller) school in Fiarenana, although its main focus is our improved cookstoves and bio-charcoal project we started in 2019.

If anything good is coming out of this COVID-19 roller-coaster is the fact that the inequalities for humans on our beautiful planet become more obvious every day and rethinking the so called 'normal', and if we ever would like to return to it in the first place, is in order. May be the needed change could be a few steps away from your front door and/or half around the globe, because they are indeed not mutually exclusive. In my book access to clean water should be a given, if you live in Flint Michigan, a slum in Brazil or in rural … (fill in your priority). For us at Zahana this location is rural Madagascar.

The documentary was made by Eberhard Rühle, who joined us for a site visit to Madagascar in 2019. It is available in French and German though ARTE. In a very twisted, bizarre way COVID-19 might been helpful for Zahana, since many more people watch TV documentaries lately and we may reach a wider audience. Doctors for Madagascar, another non-profit from Germany with personal ties to us in Berlin and Antananarivo, does amazing work, and we are honored to feature in the same movie with them. But that you can see it for yourself, if you click on the 'ARTE in English' documentary Madagascar: fighting poverty.

Aloha and stay safe!

Markus

Preparing school food in the school yard
Preparing school food in the school yard
Special treats for the students
Special treats for the students

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Waiting for the school lunch/breakfast
Waiting for the school lunch/breakfast

As a response to the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the government of Madagascar closed all schools* and declared a lock-down for major cities, including the capital of Antananarivo in April 2020.

Consequently, our two schools in the villages remain closed as well to comply with the national requirements. A closed school forces most of our students to go hungry. The mandatory school closure came rather unexpectedly, leaving especially the younger students in limbo, roaming around the village freely, while their parents are very busy during the rice harvest season, leaving for the fields before day break. Zahana decided to assemble our students every day at school to continue to offer the daily school meal.

Starting with this new school year (September 2019) Zahana provides, once again, a meal every day for our students. For most it is still the first meal of their day. The traditional mofo gassy, similar to a rice cake (see website) is a major treat, and a motivating draw for students to attend school. When possible, the mofo gasy is accompanied by powdered milk, or, like in these photos, by moringa tea.

Last holiday season Santa brought a cup for every child so they could drink something at their school with their very own cup. After the onset of the rainy season, moringa trees started to produce leaves, and this made fresh moringa leaf tea in the school possible again.

Wearing a face mask in public has been made mandatory by the Malagasy government. Leading by example might be the best educational message. Cloth face masks have been provided by Zahana to our teachers and everybody else involved in making and distributing the school meal. We did this in close collaboration with our midwife at the villages’ CARMMA (health center), who does the public health educational outreach about coronavirus prevention measures. She has also been trained to watch for symptoms, such as a possible surge of unusual coughs or fevers. Clinical diagnosis is the only viable option available to her.

We assured out teachers that they will be paid by Zahana during the mandatory school closures. Teaching is their only income, and since they have no time for farming, they are forced to buy food to eat. We are all in this together and besides distributing school meals, the teachers keep an eye on the school garden and the tree nursery, replanting and watering, a task ‘normally’ done by our students.

Last but not least, both of Zahana’s schools have running water, and students are actually in the very fortunate position to be able to wash their hands before they eat. Something that is far from been taken for granted in many places on our planet. But this is, after all, one of the reasons why platforms like GlobalGiving send you reports like these, because we hope to change this once and for all.

Thank you for your continued support in these strange times without a road map.

* The government just announced that school will reopen next week, but only for the grades that are preparing for national exams.

Mofo Gasy at the school
Mofo Gasy at the school
Teacher and cooks distributing mofo gasy
Teacher and cooks distributing mofo gasy
Moringa tea for the students
Moringa tea for the students
Pouring moringa tea
Pouring moringa tea
Washing hands before eating (with his cup nearby)
Washing hands before eating (with his cup nearby)

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Stundents planting trees in Madagascar
Stundents planting trees in Madagascar

In 2019 we moved both tree nurseries to the school grounds. This serves the dual purpose of increasing the growing area and involving the students actively in the reforestation efforts literally from seed to planting.

In conjunction with International Women’s Day with its tree planting festivities, our students participated as well, by planting 'thier seedlings' thye had been tending to in the tree nursery with the help of our gardners. Since growing, planting and caring for trees has become an integral part of the curriculum, we hope that for our children tree planting will become a totally normal thing when they become adult members of the community, because ‘this is what they have always done’.

Plant what you grew in the nursery
Plant what you grew in the nursery
Students with their seedlings
Students with their seedlings
Joining tree planting party when they are young
Joining tree planting party when they are young
Moringa seedliings in the school's nursery
Moringa seedliings in the school's nursery

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Planting the lychee tree in the school yard
Planting the lychee tree in the school yard

For our site visit in October we bought five tree seedlings for each school: avocado, lychee, mango and 2 citrus trees. We bought them in a professional tree nursery along the way to the villages. Patronizing the same nursery where we had sent our gardeners for training before.

The trees seedlings were planted, with the help of the students at both school yards during our visit.

Reforestation is one of Zahana’s core activities. It is important for us to combine site visits with tree-planting as often as possible, with the active participation of our students. Planting not just “trees”, but fruit trees, that can provide foods for the students for years to come, is the logical next step.

October is still in the dry season in the high plateau of Madagascar. It is traditionally not the ideal season to plant trees. So, this is also an experiment that our founder described in the following words: “due to climate change that is very noticeable in Madagascar, we don’t really know anymore what the right season for planting trees might be. So we just have to try it, if it might work”.

Both schools have access to water. All the students have to do is water the trees regularly, until the beginning of the rainy season, later in the year, when nature takes over this task.

- - - - - - - - - -

And yes, houskeeping is required to keep Zahana going.

This is the end-of-the-year season where you get many appeals for support and enticements of tax deductibility. Yes, if you are so inclined, and have the means to do so, please consider our projects in Madagascar.

We also wanted to put a plug in for our latest GlobalGiving project Improved cookstoves prevent deforestation. It is our most ambitious project to date, that integrated many elements, including reforestation in its scope.  And the first results are amazing. You might enjoy reading our latest project report: Improved cookstoves that really work.

Professional tree nursery on the roadside
Professional tree nursery on the roadside
Slecting the seeling to take to the schools
Slecting the seeling to take to the schools
Planting seedlings with the Bary the gardener
Planting seedlings with the Bary the gardener
Watering the new seedlings
Watering the new seedlings

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Schoolgarden and tree nursery in Fairenana
Schoolgarden and tree nursery in Fairenana

The concept of the school gardens also underwent a change for the new school year with the input of our new teachers. In keeping with the philosophy that our school is more than learning the ABC, this year’s focus will to be planting ‘things’ they can eat for their school breakfast. Cassava, sweet potatoes, corn and greens will be grown with the help of our gardeners, who will playing a more active role in the curriculum again working with our new teachers. The food will be cooked on the premises in our school’s improved cookstoves.

In our school in Fiadanana the school garden was moved behind the old school, right next to the new and expanded tree nursery. In Fiarenana the school garden is still on the other side of the small school house.

In anticipation of increased demand for tree seedlings since we started our improved cookstove project, we moved our tree nursery in both villages to the school grounds. This greatly increased the available space for the growing area for tree seedlings, allowing the gardeners to grow many more tree seedlings.

Moving the (tree) nursery to the school, has the additional benefit that the students can be directly involved with growing, tending, and watering all seedlings for the reforestation project. This direct involvement in growing seedlings for our reforestation is in addition to their school gardens, where they grow food to eat.

In the past decade our gardeners had the plant nursery right next to their respective house. They could keep a watchful eye on their seedlings, literally in the backyard. But by the same token, space was limited inside the village.

There is one thing we can’t do much about yet: the weather. Madagascar was at the time of moving the nursery in the school yard still in the dry season (which makes not such great photos). Our schoolgarden In Fiadanana has just been moved to its new location and since the new school year just started the teacher said: "Besides seeds in the ground, covered by dirt, there is not much to see yet"

Now to a bit of housekeeping:

We hope you will join us December 3 for GlobalGiving’s #GivingTuesday campaign.

  • GlobalGiving’s 2019 #GivingTuesday Campaign will begin Dec. 3, 2019, at 00:00:00 ET and end at 23:59:59 ET on Dec. 3, 2019.
  • There will be a $500,000 Incentive Fund on #GivingTuesday.
  • The Incentive Fund will be distributed to participants proportionally based on final fundraising totals. This means that, at the end of #GivingTuesday, the projects that bring in the most dollars will win the largest portion of the Incentive Fund and every project that activates donors will earn something. More details

Looking for something simple?

Become a recurring donor and your first monthly donation will be matched 100% by GlobalGiving. Recurring donors are the backbone of our budget, since monthly contributions are less challenging and nerve-racking than banking on events such as Giving Tuesday or end-of-year giving to raise the money needed to make our work possible.

The schoolgarden in Fiarenana
The schoolgarden in Fiarenana
The schoolgarden in Fiarenana 2019
The schoolgarden in Fiarenana 2019
The new school garden behind the old school
The new school garden behind the old school
The new school garden Sept. 2019
The new school garden Sept. 2019

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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
$46,012 raised of $55,000 goal
 
357 donations
$8,988 to go
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