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Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar

by Zahana
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Reforestation in the school yard in Madagascar
Reforestation in the school yard in Madagascar

Aloha friends,

May be in these strange COVID-19 times a movie documenting our reforestation efforts in Madagascar, now finally available with English subtitles as well, might provide a welcome insight in two rural villages in October 2019. The images of the students planting trees in this documantary are from our first and bigger school in Fiadanana Its main focus is our improved cookstoves and bio-charcoal project we started in 2019 that goes hand in hand with our reforestation efforts.

If anything good is coming out of this COVID-19 roller-coaster is the fact that the inequalities for humans on our beautiful planet become more obvious every day and rethinking the so called 'normal', and if we ever would like to return to it in the first place, is in order. May be the needed change could be a few steps away from your front door and/or half around the globe, because they are indeed not mutually exclusive. In my book access to clean water should be a given, if you live in Flint Michigan, a slum in Brazil or in rural … (fill in your priority). For us at Zahana this location is rural Madagascar.

The documentary was made by Eberhard Rühle, who joined us for a site visit to Madagascar in 2019. It is available in French and German though ARTE. In a very twisted, bizarre way COVID-19 might been helpful for Zahana, since many more people watch TV documentaries lately and we may reach a wider audience. Doctors for Madagascar, another non-profit from Germany with personal ties to us in Berlin and Antananarivo, does amazing work, and we are honored to feature in the same movie with them. But that you can see it for yourself, if you click on the 'ARTE in English' documentary Madagascar: fighting poverty.

Aloha and stay safe!

Markus

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Moringa tea with the mofo gasy
Moringa tea with the mofo gasy

As a response to the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the government of Madagascar closed all schools* and declared a lock-down for major cities, including the capital of Antananarivo in April 2020.

This has a major impact on the food supply in the cities, but fortunatelly our remote villages are remote, and this remoteness might be a blessing is disguise. We assured out teachers that they will be paid by Zahana during the mandatory school closures. Teaching is their only income, and since they have no time for farming, they are forced to buy food to eat. We are all in this together and besides distributing school meals, the teachers keep an eye on the school garden and the tree nursery, replanting and watering, a task ‘normally’ done by our students. 

Consequently, our two schools in the villages remain closed as well to comply with the national requirements. A closed school forces most of our students to go hungry. The mandatory school closure came rather unexpectedly, leaving especially the younger students in limbo, roaming around the village freely, while their parents are very busy during the rice harvest season, leaving for the fields before day break. Zahana decided to assemble our students every day at school to continue to offer the daily school meal.

Starting with this new school year (September 2019) Zahana provides, once again, a meal every day for our students. For most it is still the first meal of their day. The traditional mofo gassy, similar to a rice cake (see website) is a major treat, and a motivating draw for students to attend school. When possible, the mofo gasy is accompanied by powdered milk, or, like in these photos, by moringa tea, cooked on a improved cookstove.

Last holiday season Santa brought a cup for every child so they could drink something at their school with their very own cup. After the onset of the rainy season, moringa trees started to produce leaves, and this made fresh moringa leaf tea in the school possible again.

Wearing a face mask in public has been made mandatory by the Malagasy government. Leading by example might be the best educational message. Cloth face masks have been provided by Zahana to our teachers and everybody else involved in making and distributing the school meal. We did this in close collaboration with our midwife at the villages’ CARMMA (health center), who does the public health educational outreach about coronavirus prevention measures. She has also been trained to watch for symptoms, such as a possible surge of unusual coughs or fevers. Clinical diagnosis is the only viable option available to her.

Last but not least, both of Zahana’s schools have running water, and students are actually in the very fortunate position to be able to wash their hands before they eat. Something that is far from been taken for granted in many places on our planet. But this is, after all, one of the reasons why platforms like GlobalGiving send you reports like these, because we hope to change this once and for all.

Thank you for your continued support in these strange times without a road map.

* The government just announced that school will reopen next week, but only for the grades that are preparing for national exams.

Washing hands before eating (with his cup nearby)
Washing hands before eating (with his cup nearby)
Waiting in line...  Mofo gasy in sight
Waiting in line... Mofo gasy in sight
Preparing moringa tea on an improved cookstove
Preparing moringa tea on an improved cookstove
Teacher and cooks distributing mofo gasy
Teacher and cooks distributing mofo gasy
Moringa tea in the classrom
Moringa tea in the classrom

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Gathering to go out and plant tree seedlings
Gathering to go out and plant tree seedlings

Once again, to celebrate International Women's Day 2020 on March 8 a great community-wide tree planting festival, including dancing and cultural performances took place in both of our villages.

The best part of the sentence is the ‘once again’. It has become a cherished tradition that on every International Women’s Day, initiated and driven by the women’s group, the entire community gets together to plant trees. As an added bonus, for the first time ever, a group from the neighboring village joined the festivities because they want to be part of it. But the women said: if you wanna dance you also need to participate in planting trees.

Tree seelings from the school's nursery
Tree seelings from the school's nursery
Digging the hole to plant the tree
Digging the hole to plant the tree
Planting tree to line the road with shade
Planting tree to line the road with shade
Dancing to celebrate International Women's Day
Dancing to celebrate International Women's Day

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Professional tree nursery along the roadside
Professional tree nursery along the roadside

For our site visit in October we bought five tree seedlings for each school: avocado, lychee, mango and 2 citrus trees.

We bought them in a professional tree nursery along the way to the villages. Patronizing the same nursery where we had sent our gardeners Bary and Jean for training a few months back. We wanted tio give them the opportunity to spent time with professional nursery people to hone their skills. While they were very excited to leave their village, which was a great bonus for them, they did not want to spent more than 3 to 4 days away from home.

The trees seedlings were planted, with the help of the students at both school yards during our visit. In both schools our gardeners dug the holes for the trees and tought how to mix the soft soil with cow manur as fertilizer.

Reforestation is one of Zahana’s core activities. It is important for us to combine site visits with tree-planting as often as possible, with the active participation of our students. Planting not just “trees”, but fruit trees, that can provide foods for the students for years to come, is the logical next step.

October is still in the dry season in the high plateau of Madagascar. It is traditionally not the ideal season to plant trees. So, this is also an experiment that our founder described in the following words: “due to climate change that is very noticeable in Madagascar, we don’t really know anymore what the right season for planting trees might be. So we just have to try it, if it might work”.

Both schools have access to water. All the students have to do is water the trees regularly, until the beginning of the rainy season, later in the year, when nature takes over this task.

Now that the rainy season, which is synonimous with rice planting season, has started, all we need to do it wait.

- - - - - - - - - -

And yes, houskeeping is required to keep Zahana going.

This is the end-of-the-year season where you get many appeals for support and enticements of tax deductibility. Yes, if you are so inclined, and have the means to do so, please consider our projects in Madagascar.

We also wanted to put a plug in for our latest GlobalGiving project Improved cookstoves prevent deforestation. It is our most ambitious project to date, that integrated many elements, including reforestation in its scope.  And the first results are amazing. You might enjoy reading our latest project report: Improved cookstoves that really work.

Digging the hole for the tree eyed by many
Digging the hole for the tree eyed by many
manure and earth mix for the seedling
manure and earth mix for the seedling
Planting the citrus tree seedling
Planting the citrus tree seedling
Planting the lychee tree seedling in school yard
Planting the lychee tree seedling in school yard

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Tree seedlings in the school's mango forest
Tree seedlings in the school's mango forest

Sometimes a picture or two says it all, if you know what you are looking at. Voilà the photo above. (Which can actually be translated into English as “look and see”.)

But there is more to the pictures, than just rows of seedlings. In our last report, we talked about relocating the tree nursery next to the schools. The point of this move was with two goals in mind: greatly increase the area to grow tree seedlings and actively involve the students in caring for the young trees to be.

To our utmost delight, the new tree nursery area proved already to be too small. As you can see in the pictures, they moved into the Mango Forest next to the school to grow more seedlings. With the tremendous success of our improved cookstove project, the demand for seedlings for reforestation has skyrocketed. (To participate in the improved cookstove workshops a comittment to reforestation is a requirement.) If we need more trees, we need more growing space.

With the onset of the rainy season, the time for tree planting is approaching fast. And we hope to be ready to meet the demand.

Just add the seeds
Just add the seeds
A sea of seedlings in the mango forest
A sea of seedlings in the mango forest

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Organization Information

Zahana

Location: Antananarivo, Capital - Madagascar
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @zahana
Project Leader:
Markus Faigle
Volunteer
Honolulu, HI United States
$53,845 raised of $75,000 goal
 
1,024 donations
$21,155 to go
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