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
Master gardener Jean in his nursery
Master gardener Jean in his nursery

For almost a decade our gardener Jean has tirelessly been growing plants and tree seedlings for Zahana.

Most of the seedlings he grows directly in the earth of his growing beds. Like almost anywhere in the world seedlings in commercial operations are grown in black plastic bags. Lightweight and low-cost they are easy to transport. This is especially convenient when tree seedlings are given away to neighboring villages and need to be carried home for hours on foot.

Like anything else in Madagascar, these plastic bags get reused countless times until they fall apart. While they are low cost and easy to transport to the village, plus considered 'modern' and desirable, they are still plastic bags.

So, we sat down with Jean and inquired what they did before the arrival of the ubiquitous plastic bag.

You can see the results in the picture: A 100% renewable and biodegradable growing container made from locally available organic fiber materials. The added benefit is that the seedlings can be planted straight into the soil as is, in its 'container'. The natural fiber will just decompose or compost away, as the tree takes roots.

We call that: "Jean's zero waste reforestation". 

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Seedlings grown in plastic bags
Seedlings grown in plastic bags
Biodegredable tree seedling containers
Biodegredable tree seedling containers
Biodegradble reforestation containers
Biodegradble reforestation containers

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Building the clean water supply for Fiarenana
Building the clean water supply for Fiarenana

It is a great pleasure and exciting for us to announce: Our second village of Fiarenana now has clean water, too!

For many years, the well in our schoolyard was the only source of uncontaminated groundwater for the community.

So how was it accomplished? Our very active and engaged teacher had heard that Caritas, a Catholic charity, was accepting proposals or requests for a clean water system. He got hold of the application, applied for the project, and was successful. We are very proud of our teacher for being proactive and congratulate him on his wonderful success!

A team working for Caritas came to the village and built a pipe system from the nearby mountain all the way to the village. This is the same mountain that feeds the clean water system in Fiadanana for over 12 years now. Communal faucets throughout the village provide clean and safe drinking water for everybody. They also went the extra mile and put a faucet in the school’s yard.

This is an important milestone for us. It is the first time in over a decade that a third party undertook a major project, without financial involvement from Zahana. It is also a first that the request was initiated by one of our teachers who lives in the village.

Happy drinking, washing and cooking with clean water in Fiarenana for years to come!

Ihanta and Markus

Another faucet for Fiarenana's clean water supply
Another faucet for Fiarenana's clean water supply
Cattel proof clean water supply for Fiarenana
Cattel proof clean water supply for Fiarenana
Building a clean water faucet at the school
Building a clean water faucet at the school
The finished fenced it school yard water faucet
The finished fenced it school yard water faucet
Flowers like water!
Flowers like water!

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The next geration planting trees
The next geration planting trees

International women’s day is a big deal in Madagascar. Over the years it has also been celebrated in our villages, as a welcome occasion to get together and dance. (See our website.)

When our site visit team inquired with a leader of the women’s group on how they plan to celebrate international women’s day 2018 she replied: “of course we go out with the school children and planted trees, as we have always done on this day“. (With this look, a bit, ‘Why do you ask?”)

Every year it is still wonderful and very encouraging to us, that reforestation has become their “normal” thing to do, to celebrate International Women’s Day. The best proof that an innovation has become mainstream is when it becomes “the normal thing to do”. When, in this case without a site visit by the team from the capital or encouragement from outsiders, people plant trees because this is what they always did, then a paradigm shift has taken root in the community and they own it.

All we have to do is to sit back and be happy. We know all too well that in 2005, when we started our work, nobody had reforestation on their mind to celebrate anything. We have the pictures (and hopefully a forest one day) to prove it.

Dancing celebrating International Women's Day
Dancing celebrating International Women's Day
More dancing...
More dancing...
Planting trees in the school yard
Planting trees in the school yard
A true filed trip!
A true filed trip!
Reforestation field trip
Reforestation field trip
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Zahana's Moringa Omelette Video
Zahana's Moringa Omelette Video

For a quick visual reforestation sucess Moringa olifeira is a fast growing tres are ideal. Once established within a few months Moringa leaves and seedpods become a renewable and constantly available rich source of much needed nutrition.  

Moringa will hopefully become a ‘normal’ addition to most meals in our villages over the years. In project reports for the last year you can see quite a few photos about our sucessful moringa planting projects. Convincing people to eat (and for that purpose alone grow more) Moringa requires creative approaches, such as solar cooked noodles soup with Moringa leaves for our students. Children enjoying a meal might convince parents that it is 'worth a try' better than talks by the head teacher or paramedic.

We still plant Moringa oleifera first and foremost as a vegetable (tree). The best way to introduce a new food is by eating it, letting your taste buds be the judge (yes, many of us know the power of free food samples…)

Sharing food with others in Madagascar is a challenge due to customs and cultural traditions that elaborating goes beyond the scope off this project report. To make a long story short: you cannot just prepare a Moringa dish and take it to a meeting e.g. at the ministry of health and let everybody try this ‘new’ food. Since “learning by eating’ is complicated, we chose the next best route: a YouTube video. Madagascar is no exception, in the cities, especially decision-makers and department heads, make use of their Internet access a lot. We created this video that explains step-by-step, from three to plate, how to make a Moringa omelet that basically requires two ingredients: eggs and Moringa leaves. Both available for free, if you grow Moringa trees and raise chicken next to your house.

It is our hope that people in Madagascar, and now you as well, click on the video link and watch our four-minute video “A Moringa leaf omelette by Zahana”. Some of you might hopefully feel compelled to try it out for yourselves. It is indeed very tasty.

PS: In addition we created the Instagram account moringainhawaii that shows pictures of dishes using all parts of the moringa plant - in a real kitchen. Instagram allows a visit and a peek into possibilities for anybody around the globe.

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Morings seedling on their way to the garden beds
Morings seedling on their way to the garden beds

Planting Moringa trees is a long-term strategy. Getting school children involved means planting a seed (literally) that will hopefully provide them with a lifelong food source, for them and later their children.

Growing Moringa from seed can be tricky. Many experts recommend to grow the seedling for at least three months, in a pot first and then transplant it to its final location. 

The Moringa seedlings planted by the students in one of the beds of their school garden, is such an experiment. After all there is no better learning experience than putting it to the test in a garden they visit every day.

After a month or two when the tree has taken root, the first leaves can already be harvested. These leaves added, for example, into the school’s soup, provides all the nutritional benefits, grown right there on location. 

Digging the holes to plant Moringa seedlings
Digging the holes to plant Moringa seedlings
Planting the Moringa seedling with water bucket
Planting the Moringa seedling with water bucket
Two Moringa seedlings being palnted
Two Moringa seedlings being palnted
Water makes all plants grow better
Water makes all plants grow better
Task accomplished
Task accomplished
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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
$74,645 raised of $85,000 goal
 
1,469 donations
$10,355 to go
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