A community school for all (children) in Fiarenana

by Zahana
Vetted
Cassava in Zahana
Cassava in Zahana's school garden

Some project reports are more challenging to write than others. Over the years we have been confronted with and reported about students going to school hungry, especailly in the beginning of the year (Madagascars' fall season) This is a sad occurrence for us, because the community is often too embarrassed to talk about it right away so we coul take action, becuase they had committed a few years back to take care of the school food themselves with great pride.

Fortunately our teacher Mparan has become very proactive over the years. He is ever expanding and experimenting with crops to grow in the school gardens that can ultimately go into the school food. Talk about farm to table with zero food miles.  The attached picture is of the latest crop of cassava growing in the schoolyard. Cassava roots can grow over a foot long, providing much-needed starch or carbohydrates, adding sustenance and bulk to the meal. In a two for one the cassava leaves are also used in soups as a the green vegetable, as a subsitute for sweet potato leaves. Cassava is one of the staples grown in rural Madagascar and is familiar to to our students.

To actively support his efforts we have committed of providing him with protein powder (again) to boost the soup’s nutritional value. Unfortunately such products are only available in the capital and need to be taken along to the villages during site visits.

Children infront of the health center
Children infront of the health center

Links:

Santa sighted at schools in Madagascar
Santa sighted at schools in Madagascar

Dear Friends of Zahana,

(Happy Holidays) and A Good New Year - from our school in Fiarenana.

Our Founder, Dr. Ihanta used Santa’s visit to our school in Fiarenana as her official holiday card. Santa has become a ‘new’ tradition in our villages, since he started coming only in 2007, when our first school was completed.

Dr. Ihanta wrote: It was a big event for all of us. Santa brought lots of gifts: candies, coca cola, cookies, cake, bread and some lucky ones got clothes and sweaters. Good to know that they drink coca cola only once a year for a very special occasion [when Santa brings it]. One little boy was asked why he didn’t drink his coke right away, replied he wanted to save it for Christmas day. He politely didn’t agree with me when I suggested ‘everyday is Christmas’. I realized, he can indeed understand such things”

A beautiful bonus: the many trees in the background, making this card truly amazing. Somewhere in the schoolyard it beautifully illustrates all the trees that have been planted over the past years, since the school started in 2006 (in the top right corner you can see the mountain, our mount Bevato, in the background, but the view in mostly covered by the trees).

Ihanta and Markus

Santa and the kids
Santa and the kids
Happy Holidays!
Happy Holidays!
Students getting ready to meet Santa
Students getting ready to meet Santa

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Donne and Dore with their father
Donne and Dore with their father

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.

Papers in hand waiting for the exam to start
Papers in hand waiting for the exam to start

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 door to the high school entrance exam room
The door to the high school entrance exam room
Inside the exam room, waiting for the test to star
Inside the exam room, waiting for the test to star
The parental house they grew up in
The parental house they grew up in
Back at home to study for the test
Back at home to study for the test
Their family back home
Their family back home
Our
Our 'Santa' with the new tree growing well

"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.

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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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