Manja was a young woman of 25 years of age, mother of 2 little boys. She was carrying a pregnancy almost to term with the expected date of delivery around the end of June 2023.
She was part of this group of young people wanting to improve the living conditions in her village of Tsaramandroso. She reflected the soul of her village Tsara = good and mandroso = to develop.
From the beginning of her village’s collaboration with Zahana she was very dynamic and participated in all the scheduled activities. She was very proud to show us her new kitchen with the improved cookstive they had made. (see photos)
She attended various of our training courses such as sewing, pastry and soap making.
She was interested in our micro-credit program and registered for raising a pig successfully. As a role model she cleverly used the profits from the sale of the pig to open a small local store in her village. She sold basic necessities like sugar, salt, cookies, and dried fish.
She was proud of her success and last April re-subscribed to the micro-credit scheme to start raising pigs again to strengthen the capital of her business.
She embodied the courage and joy of a young woman wanting to make a difference in her life and her community. Her enthusiasm has made her a model for other young women in her community who have followed her example and applied the training provided by Zahana to improve their lives.
Unfortunately, life decided otherwise. She passed away on the morning of June 23, 2023 for reasons very difficult to explain and to be understood. The path of preparing a better future for her children took another turn. As it so happened as a coincidence, she died the day we were coming to her village for a site visit. Instead of meeting her we participated in the funeral and burial which took place on Saturday June 24 in her village of Tsaramandroso.
We miss her smile and her warm welcome very much. From the depths of our souls we pray that her soul and that of her baby who did not want to leave her womb will remain in peace forever.
The fact remains that most members of the community recognize the significant benefit of using and improved cookstove. They report benefits, such as: faster cooking through constant temperature from a renewable heat source, time saving not gathering wood, and cleanliness of the kitchen, less smoke while cooking, etc.
The success achieved so far lies in the fact that mainly households with children that are attending our Zahana schools are the most aware of the benefits that relate to using an improved cookstove. It is also important to mention that it was decided by the parents and teachers in 2022 that the use of an improved cookstove is a pre-condition for attending our schools. This is why the use of this improved cookstove as a requirement, could be considered the equivalent of a registration fee for our Zahana schools.
Zahana continues with awareness raising activities in the direction of their greater spread. In Tsaramandroso, the most advanced village in the use of the improved stove with over 90% of the households are already participating. Another indicator for success is that, especially in Tsaramandroso some are starting to use it as a source of income by developing their own models for sale in their own community and surrounding villages. (See report of Mr. Koh). We have attached photos of the creative new models that are available.
As part of the training provided in the technical school run by Zahana, the use of bio-charcoal as a source of cooking fuel is recognized as inexpensive. Using bio-charcoal instead of firewood is an integral part of promoting the use of improved cookstoves.
But, even if the level of the various trainings offered in the school should be maintained at its current level, its production at the household level remains still to be considered quite tedious. As long as firewood is still available and obtainable people might opt for it.
Despite the complexity in the process of carbonization, the big machines with which the school had been equipped for training/demonstration in 2019 are currently being revised to be made functional.
This part of the bio-charcoal production process will strive to bring these machines back to life and by actually using them and finding a way to make them more functional. (They have been sitting in a shed for years). The innovative team in Analakely wanted to revise it by possibly reducing the number of the tubes from 100 to maybe 10, that would make it more feasible to mass produce bio charcoal briquettes.
The team from Analakely, our most innovative village, seized the opportunity and began with the actual production of charcoal. Their goal is a business model with a social purpose. The team in Analakely produces bio-charcoal at a low price to encourage people to use it and at the same time to makes money by doing it, so they can support themselves and get access to cash.
At the moment, this team manages to sell their bio charcoal in the market in Tsiroanomandidy, the next town nearby. In town people cannot just take a walk into the countryside to collect firewood and are forced to buy their firewood or charcoal to cook already anyway. In this initial phase they sell 100 pieces of bio charcoal per day at the rate of 100 Ariary per unit.
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