Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar

by Zahana
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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
Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar
Seed Balls made in our schools
Seed Balls made in our schools

Note: Please watch “Reforestation with seed balls in rural Madagascar” our latest video documenting this historic occasion for context.

The start of the long-awaited rainy season came late this year in Madagascar.  By the end of January and early February there was lot of rain, unfortunately far too much in many parts of the country, especially the capital. And we fear that there are more cyclones to come, as we write this.

In our villages there is no better time than the rainy season to put our seed ball reforestation efforts to the test in the landscape. You might remember that our students made thousands of seed balls in September and October of 2021 during our schools winter break.

In January our students started the fun project to throw the first 1462 seed balls into the landscape, as you can see in the first part of the video. They also took quite a hike up the mountain to our water tank (2.5 km or almost 1.5 miles) that feeds our community built water system since 2006. On the slopes of the mountain our next generation of tree planters used more of their seed balls, this time more rolling than throwing it. Our founder said: “Covering the mountain with a forest again has been a dream of our gardener Bary for many years. Carrying seed balls up the hill instead of baby trees is certainly much easier, especially if he has many little helpers to do it. It is also more fun for the students, than carrying shovels and digging holes for baby trees all day long. And planted baby trees need to be watered by hand to make sure to take root. In the next few months we will see if this technique works as well as we hope. The fertilizer (cow manure) added to the seed balls mix should provide enough nutrients for the seedlings to grow if they get watered almost every day by mother nature. We have asked each student to remember the place where they throw their seed balls, so they come come back and check on the progress every week”

Please stay tuned for more seed ball reforestation updates soon.

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Awards for the best gardeners
Awards for the best gardeners

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.”

But there was also a very special prize: the 5 best community gardens got awarded a bucket, cooking oil, salt, coffee, and soap. But the best prize was a lamba, or a sarong, made specially for the occasion. People in Madagascar wear lamba all the time including in the evening or for official occasions. To be fair and acknowledge all the 4 gardeners for their amazing reforestation efforts, they got the same useful gift as a reward. 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

Kids waiting while gardeners get reward
Kids waiting while gardeners get reward
More cookies and clothing
More cookies and clothing

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Tending to the home garden
Tending to the home garden

“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

Watering the vegetables
Watering the vegetables
Tending the vegetables
Tending the vegetables
The garden with one of the twins
The garden with one of the twins
Sucessful gardening
Sucessful gardening

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Jean - Zahana's first master gardener
Jean - Zahana's first master gardener

Jean is Zahana’s first gardener.

Way back in 2009. We had just started working with our second village: Fiarenana. Jean had been trained in gardening by an NGO that had stopped working in his village years earlier. He approached us with the proposal to put his knowledge to good use and work for us. The fruit trees, many not common in the region, growing in his village, were almost all planted by him. The brand new position of a Zahana gardener was created. The rest is history. (See website).

Jean’s role and contribution to Zahana is amazing. We are very grateful for his ideas and green thumb. Without Jean there would be no reforestation projects. Or Bary, our second gardener in Fiadanana, who he trained. Or Mamy, our third gardener who was trained by Bary.

During the pandemic in 2020 Jean informed us that he was ready to retire, and suggested his grandson as his successor. He had said jokingly: “it is much easier for me if it is my grandson, because I can tell him what to do”. Jean promised to stay on for quite a while to train him side by side. After a good year this training period is coming to a close and Prosper, his grandson is ready to take over after about 14 years of Jean the master gardener.

With the start of 2022 will have a young, strong new gardener in Fiarenana, who in case of doubt can always ask grandpa for advice.

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 December 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 such as 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 have 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.

Prosper - The new gardener and grandson
Prosper - The new gardener and grandson
Grafting avocado - an art Jean mastered well
Grafting avocado - an art Jean mastered well
Site visit to Jean's nursery by the Zahana team
Site visit to Jean's nursery by the Zahana team
Reforestation ready to happen
Reforestation ready to happen

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Seedballs made by students dry in the sun
Seedballs made by students dry in the sun

In our last report we introduced the seed ball method of reforestation and learning how to make our very own seedballs.

Seedballs are widely advocated, especially in Kenya and surrounding countries, as a great alternative for rapidly reforestation. Our teacher Mahandry had good results in his part of the country and got everybody excited with this community activity as well. (Mahandry works with the Seneca Park Zoo Society in Rochester, New York on reforestation in the south of the country)

We decided we will literally field test the idea. If it works, we may get many more trees faster while we continue planting seedlings grown by our gardeners.

For the month of August and September, schools are closed in Madagascar for the one and only break in the school year. In the southern hemisphere it is a winter break.

We thought we could combine fun with educational opportunities. So our teachers invited our students back to make seed balls. Not only did this give the children something to do, but they were rewarded with a lunch at school. And the teachers got paid, since there were working for us (this is not common.)

The result: 2750 seed balls.

Our seed balls are rather large. More the size of a tennis ball then the more common ping-pong ball size. With the rainy season coming soon, our school children are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to throw seed balls all over the landscape.

We currently have about a dozen seed balls per student, but we hope they will demand to make many more, once they see how fun it is to throw reforestation all over the landscape.

Ihanta and Markus

PS: The photo are from the days of the site visits by the team monitoring the progress.

17-20 Augist 2021 508 Seedballs reported
17-20 Augist 2021 508 Seedballs reported
24 to 28 of August 756 seedballs reported
24 to 28 of August 756 seedballs reported
1 to 4 sept 524 Seedballs reported
1 to 4 sept 524 Seedballs reported
14 September 2021 226 Seedballs reported
14 September 2021 226 Seedballs reported
Seedballs drying in the sunshine
Seedballs drying in the sunshine

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Organization Information

Zahana

Location: Antananarivo, Capital - Madagascar
Website:
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Twitter: @zahana
Project Leader:
Markus Faigle
Volunteer
Honolulu, HI United States
$74,286 raised of $85,000 goal
 
1,448 donations
$10,715 to go
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