A community school for all (children) in Fiarenana

by Zahana
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Surprised to get soooo many gifts
Surprised to get soooo many gifts

Santa visited once again our schools, a highlight of the school year. Since this is a festive occasion Santa brought bread, candy and coca cola. But Santa also knows what they need, so he brought clothes, dolls and last but not least soccer uniforms for the school teams and the adults.

It is interesting to note that most of the comments we got over the years were about the coca cola in some of the photos. So here is some context from our founder Dr. Ihanta:

“Sorry, but coca cola is an important part of xmas celebration in the schools of our villages. Please keep in mind that this is something very special for the children that they get to drink once a year, when Santa brings it for xmas. This year, with the 10th anniversary celebration they even got coca cola twice. The kids love coca cola. The idea to get an entire bottle for each of them makes it a major treat they are looking forward to the entire year. Please keep in mind that they will be treasuring the empty bottle and reusing it over and over again to drink water.”

We feel compelled to add that with all the discussion of sugary drinks for kids in schools (and outside) in the West, this is a non-issue for our villages. Children drink water, water and water. There is no such thing as sodas or juices or chocolate. Fortunately our water supply in Fiadanana is of excellent safe drinking quality for all.

Happy Holidays and a great New Year!

Ihanta and Markus

Dancing and celbrating with Santa
Dancing and celbrating with Santa
Decorating the (living) Christmas Tree
Decorating the (living) Christmas Tree
Santa brings gifts to every child
Santa brings gifts to every child
The soccer club in the Fiadanana School
The soccer club in the Fiadanana School
Fiarenana
Fiarenana's school soccer club

Links:

Our Health Center in Fiadanana
Our Health Center in Fiadanana

This is a cross-posted report about Zahana's Health Center. Like our reforestation project, the impact of our Health Center in the village of Fiadanana reaches far beyond the boundaries of our villages. People from the surrounding villages come to seek medical help from our paramedic. Some even explicitly expressed that they prefer coming here than walking to the only hospital in the big town of Tsiroanomandidy.

Having a refrigerator is a major step towards modernization and reliable health care delivery in our Health Center. Our founder, Dr. Ihanta writes: “We need a refrigerator to store vaccines as 100% of kids must be immunized and some medicines for hemorrhage post partum have to be stored in a refrigerator as well. Our center is a CARMMA which means it is designated by the Ministry of Health as a specialized health facility to accelerate the reduction of maternal and child mortality rate. We are very proud to be one of the currently 19 designated CARMMA centers in Madagascar. Now that we have found a paramedic that is dedicated to the village we look forward to a bright future for our health center. It is important to note that in all other CARMMA in the country the paramedic or midwifes are female, with the only exception of our Health Center. Since our paramedic had earned the trust of our esteemed Healer Dadaleva the community accepted our paramedic in his new role as the sole health care provider whole heartedly.”

There is one drawback though. Our Health Center currently has two rooms. One room is dedicated to giving birth and possibly stay there postpartum to recover. One room has a bed for people who need to be hospitalized overnight or stay for a few days for observation. In addition there is a small room, or better a broom closet, to store medical supplies and medicines. Because space is limited the only space available for the refrigerator is in the “birth” room. The refrigerator is powered by kerosene and is smelly and noisy. This is a less then ideal situation that we hope to address with the community’s request to enlarge the Health Center. We are currently also on a waiting list for a solar refrigerator from UNICEF that would greatly reduce cost and the need of kerosene and indoor pollution.

Happy Holidays – Ihanta and Markus

Delivering the refrigerator to the Health Canter
Delivering the refrigerator to the Health Canter
The kerosene powered refrigerator - Health Center
The kerosene powered refrigerator - Health Center
Checking out the refrigerator
Checking out the refrigerator
Remebering Dadaleva with our Paramedic
Remebering Dadaleva with our Paramedic
The Paramedic in his office
The Paramedic in his office

Links:

The door to the classroom
The door to the classroom

Zahana's 10th anniversary was an excellent reason for festivities in the village and an opportunity to celebrate our achievements with the community.

The school they built in 2006 to house students is now in its 10th year. Some of our first students are now parents. Two of them attend agricultural school. The students had their own celebration at their school to show its importance in the village.

Especially for the students, we had their own celebration in their school yard, a 15 minute walk from the village. Like they may have already hoped, bread, candy and cookies were on the agenda. (After all Santa was in the team, too.)

To celebrate this special occasion, all of Zahana’s students also got clothes, handed out by the people who came especially for the 10th anniversary.

The communal water system is running continuously, providing clean safe drinking water for over a 1000 people. This fact alone is amazing. It shows or even proves that our participatory approach really works. It is a sad fact that most development built water systems don't function longer than two years, as pointed out in an excellent TED Talk.  But if a community comes together and tackles their own issues, a water system can run continuously for over a decade. 

Our reforestation project is by now ‘just’ half a decade old, and a ‘youngling’. It is the most visible of all projects and considered by most in the village to be our biggest success (after water and schooling, which is taken for granted already). We recently celebrated “the most trees planted”, which was covered in detail in another project report.

As usual at such events, there were speeches and traditional dances. Especially our teacher enjoyed the opportunity of having a microphone and therefore the undivided attention of the entire community. (Although we were told that many wished there might've been a stricter time limit on the length of speeches...)

But now to another celebration: GlobalGiving is offering a 50% match on donations made on GivingTuesday Nov. 29. This time GlobalGiving will match until the donations have reached 1 million dollars an amount that far exceeds all prior matching days. If you feel inclined to give to our project, please consider to do so on November 29 and you give 50% more! (Please keep in mind Nov 29 means midnight to midnight EST, where GlobalGiving is based).

Ihanta and Markus

Our teacher talking up a storm
Our teacher talking up a storm
The celebratory gifts for the students
The celebratory gifts for the students
Lining up for the celebration gifts
Lining up for the celebration gifts

Links:

Kids were happy to see Santa bring special glasses
Kids were happy to see Santa bring special glasses

This photo is just too adorable and we want to share it right away. We got it with the following email on August 29:

“We [in Madagascar] will have a total eclipse of the sun on Sept. 1st from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm. Our work currently at the Ministry of Health is to sensitize people to protect their eyes by wearing special glasses for that. It's funny some people told us why this eclipse will take place now and not in June or July. Some preachers claim that it is an announcement of the end of the era as mentioned on the Holy Bible, or a prediction of bad news. We will just have to wait and see.

Zahana bought hundreds of special eclipse glasses for our kids in our schools, both in Fiarenana and Fiadanana. This is an excellent “teachable moment” for our teachers to talk about astronomy and the celestial bodies. We sent our “Santa” to deliver the glasses and explain to them in person that we will meet again after the eclipse. We also wanted to emphasize and encourage the villagers (or their parents) to learn the facts, so they don’t sell all their belongings out of fear. See you after the eclipse”

Dr. Ihanta, Founder of Zahana

PS: On Sept. 1, the moon will pass in front of the sun, creating a brilliant ring of sunlight visible from areas around the southern Indian Ocean. When the moon creates a ring of sunlight during an eclipse instead of completely blocking the solar disk, it's known as an annular eclipse or "ring of fire" eclipse.

Dadaleva giving passionate support for the school
Dadaleva giving passionate support for the school

“Dadaleva, the tradipractioner (traditional practitioner), passed away in the night of 8 July 2016. Having permission and blessing from his family we went through a simple Zahana celebration a months later (see the photos). The celebration was held in his house. Even he himself didn’t know his own age, and he used to say “more than 60” for the last two decades. But I think he was older than my mother who passed away at 89 a few years ago, so he must have been way over 90 years old. The Famadihana, a traditional Malagasy funeral service was held in the village itself with his entire extended family” [A big event when Malagasies wrap again the bones of their deceased loved one with new shrouds] Dr. Ihanta, Zahana's Founder.

Lovingly referred to as the ‘father of the village” by our founder Dr. Ihanta, Dadaleva was not only the heart and soul of the village but also our biggest Zahana supporter. Our work would not have been possible without his unwavering support and blessing from day one, way back in 1998 when Zahana was founded. In 2005 he donated the land on which Zahana’s first school still stands. He was an amazing traditional healer whose skill and ability was sought after from people hundreds of miles away. It was an open secret that when Western doctors in the area “ran out of options” they recommended to see Dadaleva, because if he could not help, nobody could.

We will dearly miss this amazing healer and humble wonderful human being.

He has been in many photos over the years, since he was pivotal for many events. Always discretely in the background shying away from the camera, you see him always wearing the traditional Malagasy lamba, regardless of the occasion.

Markus and Jeannette

Multivitamins for the students handed over
Multivitamins for the students handed over
Dadaleva and greatgranddaughter getting water
Dadaleva and greatgranddaughter getting water
Dadaleva at the opening of the health center
Dadaleva at the opening of the health center
Dadaleva June 2016
Dadaleva June 2016
Dadaleva and the future school in Fiadanana
Dadaleva and the future school in Fiadanana

Links:

 

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Organization Information

Zahana

Location: Antananarivo, Capital - Madagascar
Website: http:/​/​zahana.org
Project Leader:
Markus Faigle
Volunteer
Honolulu, HI United States

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