Improved cookstoves prevent deforestation

by Zahana
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Improved cookstoves prevent deforestation
Improved cookstoves prevent deforestation
Improved cookstoves prevent deforestation
Improved cookstoves prevent deforestation
Improved cookstoves prevent deforestation
Improved cookstoves prevent deforestation
Improved cookstoves prevent deforestation
Improved cookstoves prevent deforestation
Improved cookstoves prevent deforestation
Improved cookstoves prevent deforestation
Improved cookstoves prevent deforestation
Improved cookstoves prevent deforestation
Improved cookstoves prevent deforestation
Improved cookstoves prevent deforestation
Improved cookstoves prevent deforestation
Improved cookstoves prevent deforestation
Improved cookstoves prevent deforestation
Improved cookstoves prevent deforestation
Improved cookstoves prevent deforestation
Improved cookstoves prevent deforestation
Improved cookstoves prevent deforestation
Improved cookstoves prevent deforestation
Improved cookstoves prevent deforestation
Improved cookstoves prevent deforestation
Improved cookstoves prevent deforestation
Improved cookstoves prevent deforestation
Improved cookstoves prevent deforestation
Waiting patiently as gardeners get their rewards
Waiting patiently as gardeners get their rewards

The happy occasion is a big day: A few days ago, Santa visited the villages in Madagascar with gifts. Christmas is the big day children at our school await all year in great anticipation. This one special day they get their very own package of cookies (see photos.) Our team said: “just seeing excitement in their eyes as their faces light up, makes you happy to be part of it.”

In addition, they also got new clothes, something that has become a Christmas tradition by now as well. Another beautiful tradition is that Dr. Ihanta’s colleagues had been collecting clothes for Santa’s visit in the village all year long for quite a few years now. Despite the pandemic and they now being her former colleagues, they have been keeping up this tradition after she retired and many of the clothes you see on the gift table are from them.

Thank you for your support that makes out work in rural Madagascar possible.

Happy New Year




More cookies more clothes
More cookies more clothes
Preparing the gift tables
Preparing the gift tables
Bucket, oil, salt, coffee & soap for gardeners
Bucket, oil, salt, coffee & soap for gardeners
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Growing green stuff successfully
Growing green stuff successfully

“The spirit of a family garden in Fiadanana came back” was the comment of our founder Dr. Ihanta, when she forwarded the photos in this report we got from Fiadanana a few days ago. Some reports don’t fit in one slot, so we will cross-post this one in all of our projects. It is at the same time a bird’s eye view at the question: does our work have a lasting impact?

Sometimes you might just have to wait a decade to find out if it works, until people come around. Really?
 
Yes, really. Here is why:

In 2013 people planted vegetable gardens next to the houses in Fiadanana, our first village. (See website.) We originally thought it is kind of a no-brainer to have a garden right next to your kitchen, that supplies you with fresh vegetables as close to your cooking pot as possible. Dr. Ihanta had bought little vegetable seed packages and Bary our new gardener distributed them among the people interested. It worked really well and the vegetables grew happily all over the village. But then the idea fell asleep and for reasons unclear to us, people stopped growing vegetables next to their houses. It might have been connected to the cultural fact that rice farmers think only rice and corn, are ‘real’ crops a ‘real’ farmer grows, and vegetables are for ‘others’ that cannot grow rice. It might be a myriad of other reasons that will remain a mystery. Years went by.

Now in Fall of 2021 the vegetable gardens are back!  And they look better than ever before.

We were wondering if there might be a correlation between the huge and beautiful school gardens, thanks to Donné, that blossomed during the pandemic lockdown. Or could it be Donné’s persistent teaching by example planting and introducing new crops? People always thought onions and carrots don’t grow there. Donné put it to the test. Now everybody can see and knows: onions and carrots grow very well, after his bumper crop in our school garden.  

In October we made a staff adjustment. The midwife’s husband is very innovative and outside-the-box thinker. He would fit in well with a poetry reading in a smoky basement café in Paris. Before the pandemic, he was part of our teacher’s team in our school in Fiadanana. But the pandemic, with the school shutdown, helped him realize that teaching primary school is not his forte or calling. He is very passionate about sports and the soccer clubs he coaches. As staff, he also participated in all trainings conducted in his village, is a quick study and knows all of our projects well. Making your own charcoal, testing our new charcoal maker gizmos or researching new sources for carbon comes natural to him. In November 2021, we made him, loosely translated, a ‘controller’ or ‘independent evaluator’. In addition to being in charge of sports at the school, he now has a new role and position. He reports directly to Dr. Ihanta and not our local team leader. Solar energy to power the phones and computer at the CARMMA (the maternity clinic) makes this communication possible.

A skillful people’s person, his task is to visit all ten villages we work in and assess what is going on. On his agenda are questions like: do they indeed use improved cookstoves or make their own bio-charcoal?. And if not, try to figure out what is needed to improve the situation. It is a great plus that his family is the proud owner of a motorbike and he is very mobile.

The pictures of the gardens are from him as one of his first official assessments. Much to our delight, he had asked people why they started gardens. He reports, the most beautiful of all is run by a set of twins and their mother. Both twins have been students in our school. The other people he asked all have children who are currently attending our school. Another garden is from the president of the parents association.

It is our hope that teaching the children to garden in school, might in turn help them inspire their parents ‘back home’ to implement what they learned. Or implement it when they themselves grow up and become parents. This idea seems to bear fruit (or vegetables in this case.) We are happy the spirit of a family garden in Fiadanana came back. Welcome and we hope you stay for good!

Monthly donor drive – 12/17 Last day for a 200% match of your monthly amount

Thank you to all of Zahana’s current monthly donors!

This is a reminder: GlobalGiving’s monthly donor drive from Dec 13 to 17 is still on. In case the drive is over when you read this email we are grateful for any donation, monthly or in a lump sum you may consider for Zahana.

Every monthly donation pledged in this week will be matched 200% in April 2022. This means you donate for 12 months, but Zahana actually get 14 months out of the year 2022.  How sweet is this candy cane, buy 12 get 14?*

Monthly donors, people who give a small amount every month, have become the backbone of our work in Madagascar. It gives us a reliable source of donations every month. It allows us to plan or budget for ongoing expenses e.g. salaries for our teachers and gardeners.  

Monthly donations free us from the stress of having to raise our budget for 2022 in the month of December. Traditionally, in the USA over 80% of donations are made in December. Just imagine: you might get one big paycheck in December and had to make it last all year long. Plus, you don’t really know what this paycheck may look like until Dec 31, the big day for end-of-the-year donations. Plus, if some other emergency (or a pandemic) gets all the attention in December, we at Zahana might just fall through the proverbial cracks.

Please consider, if you are able to donate, becoming a monthly donor for Zahana from Dec 13 to 17. Thank you.

If you prefer a single one-time amount we are of course grateful as well if you consider Zahana in Madagascar.

*Monthly donations are capped at $200 per month, and have to be actually made for 4 months to qualify, to avoid shenanigans

The president of the parents association' garden
The president of the parents association' garden
One of the twins with is mother in their garden
One of the twins with is mother in their garden
Watering the vegetables
Watering the vegetables
Growing well
Growing well
Gardens are sizeable
Gardens are sizeable

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Bio-charcoal from rice husk
Bio-charcoal from rice husk

What looks like a seed ball in the photo just following this report is the actual innovation:  bio charcoal made from rice husks.

We asked our team to keep on the lookout for new improved cookstoves models or other innovative ideas during their visits to the villages.

After the rice harvest, there are literally big piles of rice husk all over the villages in Madagascar. In the past, they were considered ‘agricultural waste’. First, the chicken picked all the leftover rice bits out and then the wind took care of disbursing them, returning it to the cycle.

Under the guidance of our improved cookstove inventor Richard, Zahana and especially Donné, has been experimenting for quite a while carbonizing rice husks, utilizing another readily available resource for bio-charcoal. He used the specially built ‘oil barrel carbonizer’ for his experiments (see photo). Bio-charcoal for other organic sources than wood from trees is our twin project of the improved cookstoves. Experimenting on site with rice husk or corn cobs is leading by example as we want to make sure that it works first, before we promote it further..

It took the village of Analakely, our newest partner, to implement this idea. The population there is very innovative and they’re always open to try out new ideas. They implemented our research results and made their bio-charcoal with rice husk after this year’s harvest. They told us it was very successful and they will keep on doing it until they run out of rice husk. At the time of the site visit in November 2021 almost 60% of the households used bio-charcoal made from rice husk.

We hope they will be leading by example, because after the rice harvest rice husk is literally available right in front of their doors, eliminating the need to go for a walk to cut the grass or other biomass and carry it home to carbonize.

Monthly donors - the sweet smell of holiday candy

Thank you to all of Zahana’s current monthly donors!

Here is a sweet deal: GlobalGiving’s monthly donor drive from Dec 13 to 17, 2021.

Every monthly donation pledged in this week will be matched 200% in April 2022. This means you donate for 12 months, but Zahana actually get 14 months out of the year 2022.  How sweet is this candy cane, buy 12 get 14?*

Monthly donors, people who give a small amount every month, have become the backbone of our work in Madagascar. It gives us a reliable source of donations every month. It allows us to plan or budget for ongoing expenses e.g. salaries for our teachers and gardeners.  

Monthly donations frees us from the stress of having to raise our budget for 2022 in the month of December. Traditionally, in the USA over 80% of donations are made in December. Just imagine: you might get one big paycheck in December and had to make it last all year long. Plus, you don’t really know what this paycheck may look like until Dec 31, the big tax-day for end-of-the-year donations. Plus, if some other emergency (or a pandemic) gets all the attention in December, we at Zahana might just fall through the proverbial cracks.

Please consider becoming a monthly donor for Zahana from Dec 13 to 17. Thank you.

*Monthly donations are capped at $200 per month, and have to be actually made for 4 months to qualify, to avoid shenanigans

Bio-charcoal stored for a rainy day
Bio-charcoal stored for a rainy day
The oil drum repurposed for charcoal carbonization
The oil drum repurposed for charcoal carbonization
Slow burn carbonization of rice husk for  bio-char
Slow burn carbonization of rice husk for bio-char
Slow burn carbonization a few hours later
Slow burn carbonization a few hours later

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Val's dream house
Val's dream house

Our team lovingly calls him ‘Little Val', due to his small stature. Our founder, putting on her MD hat, puts it this way: “He is 17 years old but very small size for his age, because they grew up malnourished.” It is his kindred spirit, his resilience, his hard work, and his thirst for learning and creatively implementing what he learned that conquered the hearts of our team.

Life has not been kind to Val. In the statistics it’s called “childbirth mortality”. For little Val it means his mother died the day he was born. Something that hangs over him ever since.  He and his older siblings, 4 sisters and one brother, were raised by a single father. To make matters worse, his family does not own farmland in the village. To earn money to eat, he and his brother must work as day laborers for others in their community.  Working most of his youth for others, he makes sure that his family has something to eat. But that came at a high personal cost: he did not have to luxury to attend the school in his village. As very hard workers, he and his older brother are in high demand.

While it is hard to imagine that in a poor village, some are even poorer than others, Val’s family is among them. But the cards he got dealt by fate did not break his spirit.

Val was a very active participant ever since our improved cookstove workshop in his village. As our founder put it: “He was one of those people who always stick around. But he did not just stick around and watch, like many do.  He did ask a lot of questions and jumped in to lend a hand, when he saw a need, even if he is not ‘asked’ to help.”

Val mastered how to build an improved cookstove in no time. Richard, the improved cookstove’s inventor, started to call him ‘his assistant’, because he was a quick study. A role he filled splendidly, assisting in building the stove for the bakery to support to school in his village (website and/or project report).

But it is his creativity that amazed everybody. Or as Richard puts it: his ability to dream despite all odds. He made a cardboard model of his dream house. Bus as soon as he mastered to build cookstoves with clay, he took some of it to build his clay model of his dream house. The two houses he hopes to build one day for him and his future family. With staircase, two balconies and everything else.

Val's other dream cardboard house
Val's other dream cardboard house
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Our improved cookstove team on the open road
Our improved cookstove team on the open road

A picture tells a thousand words they say. The photos in our video are mostly from 2020 and 2021.

Please watch How to build your own improved cookstove in rural Madagascar from April 2021 in conjunction with this report.

Our team that conducts the workshops about improved cookstoves and homemade production of bio-charcoal briquettes has been very busy in the past year, despite the difficulties of COVID-19 lockdown measures and subsequent restrictions.

To date they successfully conducted workshops in 10 villages. All of that literally on foot in early 2020 walking to the villages and later zipping along with their spiffy new zahana bicycles.

Buying bicycles for our team not only increased mobility tremendously, but also boosted the morale and infused them with new energy and dedication. As an added benefit it made the visit to the villages safer for them. They travel as a group in the daylight hours because it is not safe to travel after dark.

To honor their commitment, they got a very special Christmas bonus this year. In an envelope each of them got an image of a bicycle. After opening it, they were not sure what to make of it, because most likely they were hoping for a crisp new bill as a culturally customary cash bonus. When they were told that the bicycles were theirs to keep for good they were flabbergasted. After all, they were prepared to pay us back for the bicycles over the next two years from their salaries. A good mountain bike in Madagascar cost more than a two month’s salary, and this bonus is a ‘really big deal’.

Taking the shortest route in rural Madagascar
Taking the shortest route in rural Madagascar
Almost there?
Almost there?
Making bio-charcoal under watchful eyes
Making bio-charcoal under watchful eyes
Making bio-charcoal 'balls'
Making bio-charcoal 'balls'

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Organization Information

Zahana

Location: Antananarivo, Capital - Madagascar
Website:
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Twitter: @zahana
Project Leader:
Markus Faigle
Volunteer
Antananarivo, Capital Madagascar
$9,268 raised of $35,000 goal
 
81 donations
$25,732 to go
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