This past week, in the sprit of Madagascar's national day of democracy and peace, the Ho Avy Association and it's partners from the Universita Degli Studi di Torino in Italy, the European Union, GERP Groupe d'Etude et de Recherche sur les Primates de Madagascar and Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots program in Antananarivo donated 78 solar ovens and 22 fuel efficient wood-burning stoves to the Ranobe community and community center. ADES, a non-profit in Toliara that builds the ovens helped with the two days of distributing and training at the community center.
Information sessions where held at the community center informing people about the health benefits of this technology, especially for women and children who cook on fire and the time saved for women who harvest wood for cooking fuel. After distribution a door-to-door follow-up has been made to instruct in the correct usage of the materials, on-going training and fundraising to implement more of these materials will be headed by Roots and Shoots and Ho Avy.
Needless to say the villagers were very excited about receiving these materials, several women commented how they liked the idea of this 'cleaner technology' and the men were impressed at the rate of combustion with the fuel efficient wood-burning stoves. The local community expressed a lot of thanks for the generosity from the sponsors, aware the materials could have easily been donated to another community in Madagascar.
While these materials may not be the 'silver-bullet' to solving all of Ranobe's environmental pressures the action is an important incremental step, gaining the confidence of the villagers by trying to include everyone in some meaningful way. Progress with anything new may be slow here but the direct connection to Ranobe's community has been one of the most important criteria for being able to make any impact on the rugged conservation and development landscape in S.W. Madagascar.
As mentioned in our last update solar panels have been donated to the community center and will be installed as soon as Ho Avy can raise the funds to buy materials to complete the installation and can hire a permanent staff to manage the centers activities.
In addition, several parallel projects for the center are being developed, including a community health and family planning project as well as a improved agriculture and carbon project. All with the intention of achieving Ho Avy's long-term vision, to link the well-being of people with the value of the unique environment. However, only with the passage of time has it been possible to gain the necessary experience to adapt these ideas to the complexity of the realities in S.W. Madagascar.
We thank you for bearing with Ho Avy through its metamorphosis, your on going support is hugely appreciated by everyone here in Madagascar and we will be sure to keep you updated as projects continue to develop around the community center.
We apologize for the long silence but fall has busily flown by here. Now while many of you are in the midst of the heat waves in the north here the cool southern winter winds blow making it an ideal time for building. Im please to report that the community center is nearing completion, the last months we have been pushing to finish the roof, walls, veranda and agro-forestry garden.
Currently, two members of Ho Avy's team are in the capital of Madagascar procuring solar panels donated to the project by the California Academy of Sciences and Sun Power Foundation. These panels will be transported to the south of Madagascar to light the center and our next update is sure to include the installation of the panels and the reaction of the community.
We hope you stay tuned for the coming together, completion and continuation of this community center project. All of us here greatly appreciate your interest and support.
If you or anyone you know would like to donate to the community center project please send us an email directly at firstname.lastname@example.org as our non-profit status has changed.
Dear Supports of the Community Outreach Center in Ranobe village
All of us working here in Ranobe appreciate your ongoing support and patience for completion of this Center, things have been mora-mora (moving slowly) but affectively we have reached our goal of getting the roof frame of the Center on by this up date. With the monsoons finally arriving in SW Madagascar after a considerable drought period people are investing all their energies into getting as much into the ground with this narrow window of favorable planting conditions.
Since our last update many things are moving in a very positive direction for the project, several ongoing and new ideas for activities that will be running in the Center are already underway in Ranobe (see below). Ho Avy's collaborative and participatory approach to work on community development has been reassessed with the help of some new partners ProAct Network, along with the community association FIMPAHARA, and the Ranobe village at large.
The completion of the Center at this point just needs the agreed upon labor input from the village and since May 2011 all materials have been on site and the villagers has come up with and agreed on their own building design. In June, regional leaders including the director of regional development came from the capital of Toliara to Ranobe in support of the Center's completion and encouraged the community that 'it is in their best interest to pull-together and complete the center as a community'.
As best as Ho Avy can we have advised the village that completion of the Center will bring in many good benefits to the community. We have informed the villagers that the building will have electricity (around a 10,000 dollar investment), new materials and programs for alternative livelihood improvements, education opportunities for adults and kids but things still progress slowly as this is not paid work but rather an effort from the community for the community. Truth be told people here rarely offer volunteering time to their neighbors, people tend to be individualistic when it comes to work, people farm their own plot, and only occasionally hire labors. In fact, there are tons of quarks, among different family's in the village, their histories, which affects working together for the completion of the Center and Ho Avy simply cannot be in the middle working this all out. In fact Ho avy has been adapting to local conditions, taking a necessary reflective step back for our own growth and to allow the village, who have agreed to do this Center the space to do it at their pace. This is a great learning lesson for Ho Avy about how real progress is step by step and while this is not our typical western way of doing things these last weeks give us increased confidence this approach will provide a greater yield in the end.
But we wanted you to be aware of some of the reasons why things have taken much longer than we would have originally envisioned with the construction of the Center.
In related news, this past week David from the ProAct Network, a Swiss based organization specializing in participatory community environmental planning, risk assessment and adaptation to climate change impacts visited Ho Avy in Ranobe.
ProAct, amongst other projects is interested in supporting the ongoing activities of the Community Center with a number of tools and materials for livelihood improvements ranging from sewing machines, to agricultural tools, to the installation of SunPower donated solar panels. On David's visit we updated the community about this news and asked them what it would take to complete the construction of the Center so we are able to get the new programs and materials to it? Upon the villages request, ProAct has generously donated some initial funding for labor to complete the Center, to augment the income of the villagers who would otherwise be making charcoal and farming. The alternative livelihood option to construct the Center has come with great enthusiasms from the village and we have been ensured of a opening of the Community Center by the end of March.
Thanks David and ProAct for brining your expertise and support of community planning to Ranobe and Ho Avy! Also during ProAct's visit we toured and met with several partner organizations working with Ho Avy including HONKO, Bel Avenir and WWF and numerous exciting synergies came out of these meetings with the great prospect for renewed and expanded collaboration with these organizations, Ho Avy and ProAct.
Other community stuff happening around Ranobe:
We are happy to inform you school is in, in Ranobe, led by Anna a volunteer from Germany who has prudently started language lessons in the school, built a football field last week, and is in the process of building a nursery and garden at the school. Anna is highly motivated, self-sufficient and competent and has developed a scheme in collaboration with the school director and children where together we will grow and plant trees around the school in exchange for equipping the school with necessary materials and knowledge about the importance of the local forest, the necessity to change habits and protect it. Also, a local woman artist believing in Ho Avy's vision has approached me and has expressed interested to make informative comics and theatre with the school kids, specific to the mission of Ho Avy working in Ranobe. This will be a very important tool, from a truly Malagasy prospective that can lend greatly to bridging the communication gap and help new positive messages reach people who need it most like the kids in the Ranobe school, who's education and livelihood opportunities are very limited but who's mind's are open to new information.
With the help of a small group of dedicated villagers and social organizers we have around 15,000 trees growing in the nurseries in Ranobe, this time around we have focused on what the community has asked for, more fruit trees, useful wood producing and medicinal species. As a result more farmers are beginning to come to us, becoming very keen on the idea of planting trees and integrating them into into the productive agriculture land that Ranobe is blessed with. Thus we are very pleased with the progress, and while things are slow with some projects like construction much is abuzz in the village now.
Speaking of slow, this past week we hosed a big supporter of Ho Avy's work in Madagascar, the University of Hamburg who are searching the Ranobe forest for the critically endangered Spider tortoise, an endemic species to southwestern Madagascar. The reseach methodology involves employing and taking villagers out into the forest to search for tortoises. Sadly only a few were found this time, but research will be followed up by Hamburg, Ho Avy and the University of Toliara, several months a year until 2014. Loss of habitat to charcoal production along with human consumption of the animals contributes most to the loss of this marvelous and prehistoric tortoises. Hiring villagers, the people who maybe directly altering the habitat, or consuming these animal was welcomed and enthusiastically 10 villagers accompanied the survey team twice a day, earning approximately a months income in less than a week.
Thank you for bearing with us as we go through this necessary evolution process to improve Ho Avy's repertoire of approaches that aim to achieve collective benefit for the good of the community using participatory approaches.
Your support is so very much appreciated, please send us any feedback you have (good or bad), we'd like to hear from you and we cannot thank you enough.
Dear Supports of the Ranobe Community Resource Center,
From here in SW Madagascar, Im happy to report on the progress and latest happenings with and around the construction of the center.
Since our last update in June we have got the main body of the center timber framed, walls mudded and foundation laid. We have the wood for the roof in the village now and this week we have the goal to get a roof on the building. After the roof frame is complete, the local guys will use reeds and bamboo, cut from the edge of the nearby lake to make an excellent, natural fiber, waterproof roof. We will custom fit a frame on to the roof to house the donated SunPower solar panels that will power the center and are on their way to Toliara very soon!
For more recent news about Ho Avy view attachment to this report Ho Avy_ Activity Update_Jul_Sep 2011 and www.hoavy.org/news.
Thank you very much for your continual support without which Ho Avy's progress would not be possible.
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