Thank you, Tom
Tom Corcoran has just completed his internship with CPALI. I want to tell you about all the contributions Tom has made to the project to push it ahead. Tom is a student at the University College Cork, Ireland in the International Development and Food Policy department and volunteered to work with CPALI to complete his field study for the university's field requirement. I don't know how CPALI could be so lucky but I hope that we have opportunities for future "Toms" in the future.
When Tom arrived, he had a variety of projects outlined that he had proposed to choose from: 1) Make a movie of the CPALI project; 2) assist CPALI in grant writing to expand our work more rapidly, and 3) work with Mamy to put in place and expand our new farmer training network program. Tom didn't just select a project, he completed all three.
Tom helped SEPALI Madagascar submit its first grant proposal to the Global Environmental Fund. We hope you will keep your fingers crossed that we will receive funding. The major activity, as recommended by Tom, is to establish a teaching and marketing center in a location that is central to the four communities where we are working. With this "center" we would be able to offer extended technical support to our farmers, increase their access to us, set-up new nurseries and a center for training textile producers within walking distance of all the villages in which we work.
Tom's second accomplishment was to help Mamy extend our farmer networks. Tom knew no Malagasy when he arrived but that didn't seem to bother him. After arranging for his own tutoring program in town, and then armed with a few words, he took to the villages. Tom soon made friends up and down the river. Most important, was the friendship he established with Henri Mani, a school teacher in Ambodivoaghany. Together, Henri, Mamy and Tom worked to convince farmers to join CPALI/SEPALI farmer teams. CPALI and now SEPALI Madagascar (the Malagasy NGO founded by CPALI in country directory, Mamy Ratsimbazafy) have over 100 farmers committed to our program. None of these farmers are paid salaries but know that they have a market for the future goods they will produce. Moreover, Tom loves children and you can see from his video, the special attention they receive. This work, a new focus for CPALI and SEPALI Madagascar will be critical to raising the next generation of educated farmers who really understand what conservation is and why it is important. Tom and Mamy have worked extremely diligently to make our new farmer-teams inclusive and accessible to disadvantaged villagers who have less desirable farmland and live closer to the Makira forest.
Finally, Tom is a talented photographer. During his many visits to the villages he soon established a group of followers (usually under the age of 10!). He photographed homes, families, children at work, play and in school. He gave all those he photographed copies of the picture he took making sure that the communities knew CPALI/SEPALI Madagascar would not be going away. Tom's pictures best reflect his commitment and love for the Malagasy people and his belief in the CPALI program. He has made a preview of a 1/2 film for GG donors that you can access by linking to our site on the National Geographic's Action Atlas (GG doesn't "do" videos). Razia Said and Henri Mani provide original music -
Thank you for your loyalty to CPALI and now SEPALI Madagascar. We will continue to work to make you proud and
ensure that the generous funds you have donated are making a difference in Madagascar.
All the best,