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
One of the twins with is mother in their garden
Watering the vegetables
Gardens are sizeable