Not all reports are upbeat (this is to warn those of you who have been requesting advance notice for reports like these). We had been contemplating for a while if we should share this report from Madagascar, but it is a sad part of our reality as well, especially when it is one of our key community members:
"I got back yesterday and the bad news we learnt about returning made us deeply sad. The dad of our ‘boys’ Donné and Doré (water police*) passed away last Thursday. He walked to town to see his sons using ‘the shortcut’ to bring a bag of rice. He had hoped to get back home the same day as one way, using the shortcut, takes less than 2 hours. On his way back, too late in the day, at nightfall he missed a ravine and fall down. People from Fiadanana were worries when he did not return home and they went looking for him. Unfortunately when he was found, he was already dead at the bottom of the ravine. He passed away all alone, without any help.
When you look at the photos you can see that he (in the middle) was very proud of his 2 sons and in the firm believe that that they are in the way to success. At the time he did not realize that passing that BEPC is just the beginning of a long road of study ahead from them."
* ‘water police’ was a well meant nickname given to him by the community, because almost 10 years ago he took it upon himself to walk the 2.5 km or 1.5 miles along the pipes of the communal water system almost every day to make sure that we are no leaks, obstructions or problems.
With great pride we post this update for Zahana. Email and SMS (or text message) makes it possible to share the good news almost in real time. “Our brave country boys Doré and Donné passed their exam! They are among the 51% in the entire region of Tsiroanomandidy who successfully passed their BEPC (high school entrance exam). I`m really happy, we will celebrate with them. They will be living in Tsiroanomandidy and go to high school there. There is no better tenth anniversary gift for Zahana. Back in October 2005, when Raleva our traditional healer donated the land to built our community school nobody even dreamed of such a wonderful result.”
"The BEPC (Brevet d'Etude du Premier Cycle) exam starts this coming Monday, August 3 from 3 to 5 PM. The test will be held in Tsiroanomandidy*.
They will go to high school in Tsiroanomandidy if they pass the test. Once again, they will stay there by themselves like they were in Bevato for middle school. So let's pray for them they will be successful not just in school but especially as a reward for their exceptional behavior, they are so humble and understand where they came from. They are the best role model Zahana could wish for.
As I couldn't be with our courageous students, our Zahana Santa agreed to do that for them. He is leaving the capital on Friday to drive them from the village of Fiadanana to Tsiroanomandidy and find temporary housing for them there. We already sent new clothes donated from my colleagues to them, everyone seems to admire our brave country-boys."
Ihanta (Founder of Zahana)
*Explanatory note: Tsiroanomandidy is the next (and only) bigger town in the area. Tsiroanomandidy can be reached via a paved road from the capital (a five hour’s drive) and has such amenities as a hospital, electricity and a high school. It takes about four to five hours to walk from Fiadanana to Tsiroanomandidy.
We have very exciting news: High school is so close for Donné and Doré, they can almost touch it.
Both have been admitted to take the BEPC (Brevet d'Etude du Premier Cycle).
The BREC is a nation-wide entrance exam for high school taken in July. Both have been living in the small town of Bevato attending the equivalent of middle school for the past few years (after they passed their CEPE), being first and second in their class almost every year since. We are confident they will pass their BREC with flying colors.
Nine years after the opening of our school in Fiadanana, they will be the first in their community to ever attend high school. Currently they are at home in Fiadanana studying hard for the BREC, full of hope and expectation, since Zahana promised them we would support them all the way through university.
Madagascar has experienced an exceptionally devastating cyclone season in early 2015. The severe weather and rain caused a lot of damage. Our team had tried to visit our villages in late January to make sure they were OK after the first big cyclone. They were unable to reach the villages and the driver had to turn around, since the roads were impassable and unsafe. We later sent our founder’s nephew, a strong young man, who had to walk the last 20 kilometers on foot to reach our villages.
“The roof and the door of our school in Fiarenana was damaged by the cyclone (it will be repaired by the community, financed by their school treasury). The parents’ association and students are in the process of replacing, respectively replanting, some trees in the school yard that were broken down by the cyclone. Some rice paddy were invaded by sand-flooding”
Dr. Ihanta, Zahana’s founder, sent us this explanatory background note: “The weather was terrible and most of people were forced to stay in their houses most of the time. In our capital many houses collapsed due to the rain and mudslides on the steep hillsides. Unbelievable, but since January it was raining everyday. We learnt that the last previous similar flood in Madagascar was in 1959 and it was also very serious.
Many of students came to the school in the hope of finding food (bad weather combined with the fear of starvation), so Zahana provide noodles for soup. On a happier note we have included the latest photos (taken with my nephew’s cell phone) of the food being served in the courtyard of our school in Fiarenana.” Note: if you look at the ground you can see that it is still very wet, even if the weather looks ‘nice’.
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