The dream of reforestation has been a driving force behind our participatory community development efforts. More than once we have learned trees take their sweet old time to grow at their own pace. Planting is one thing, but rain, weather, and all too often in Madagascar, bush fires are factors that need to be taken into consideration.
Reconstructing a picture from the same angle always poses a challenge, but we hope, better than with any words, we can illustrate what successful reforestation looks like. The proximity to the school and tender loving care by our students makes these efforts successful (2007 versus 2016). The same applies to the health center in the middle of the village, where watchful eyes can share the burden of watering the trees or keeping the cattle at bay if need be (20014 versus 2016).
The trees this little boy has planted are now tall
Project reports need to have a minimum length, or we would just use the caption:
“The trees this little boy has planted are now taller than him”.
It says it all. 2012 tree planting pictures below.
Happy Holidays and a Good New Year - from our school in Fiarenana.
Our Founder, Dr. Ihanta used Santa’s visit to our school in Fiarenana as her official holiday card. Santa has become a ‘new’ tradition in our villages, since he started coming only in 2006, when our first school was completed.
Dr. Ihanta wrote: It was a big event for all of us. Santa brought lots of gifts: candies, coca cola, cookies, cake, bread and some lucky ones got clothes and sweaters. Good to know that they drink coca cola only once a year for a very special occasion [when Santa brings it]. One little boy was asked why he didn’t drink his coke right away, replied he wanted to save it for Christmas day. He politely didn’t agree with me when I suggested ‘everyday is Christmas’. I realized, he can indeed understand such things”
A beautiful bonus: the many trees in the background, making this cards truly amazing. Somewhere in the schoolyard it beautifully illustrates all the trees that have been planted over the past years, since the school started in 2006 (in the top right corner you can see the mountain, our mount Bevato, in the background, but the view in mostly covered by the trees).
Sometimes we get a picture that does not fit into the confined scope of projects or programs. Assisting and encouraging people to work together, be it building a water system, a school or plant trees as a community wide effort is at the heart of participatory development.
Soccer has long been the favorite sport and past time in Madagascar nation wide as well as in our villages. Zahana has supported the women’s soccer teams in Fiadanana and Fiarenana since 2006 (yes, we have women's and men's teams in each village).
Sponsorship is very practical and immediate: Zahana buys the soccer balls, the air pump, the uniforms and, as in this picture, the soccer shoes. Having a clean and snazzy uniform for their team is a source of great pride, especially for people who may not own many pieces of clothing in the first place.
Waiting for the high school entrance exam to start
The end of June (2015) we got very exciting news: Donné and Doré had both been admitted to take the BEPC a nation-wide high school entrance exam (Brevet d'Etude du Premier Cycle).
Some of you may remember Donné and Doré, who had been living for past few years in the small town of Bevato attending secondary school (after they were the among our first students who passed their CEPE in our school in 2011).
Over three days (August 3-5) they took the BREC in the town of Tsiroanomandidy. Their very proud parents and Zahana’s ‘Santa’ accompanied them to the town from their home in Fiadanana.
For over a week everybody waited for the official results to be released. With great pride we can post this August 15 update from Zahana:
“Our brave country boys passed their exam! They are among the 51% in the entire region of Tsiroanomandidy who successfully passed their BEPC. I’m really happy and we will celebrate with them. Supported by Zahana they will be living in Tsiroanomandidy for the next few years and attend high school there. There is no better tenth anniversary gift for Zahana. Back in October 2005, when Raleva our traditional healer donated the land to built our community school nobody even dreamed of such a wonderful result for two of our students. They are the first in their community to ever attend high school”
*Explanatory note: Tsiroanomandidy is the next (and only) bigger town in the area. Tsiroanomandidy can be reached via a paved road from the capital (a four hour’s drive) and has such amenities as a hospital, electricity and a high school. It takes about four to five hours to walk from their village of Fiadanana to Tsiroanomandidy.
Reforestation continues - Jean our master gardener
Here is a report direclty from the filed after a site visit in June: "All photos of the trees the community planted we sent are from Fiadanana and Fiarenana. People are very enthusiastic about the reforestation in both communities and very proudly show off the growing trees. The best assessment we can make is that all projects have been successful and that neither drought not brushfires have endangered our reforestation efforts.
You may recognize Jean our gardener from Fiarenana in some of the pictures where he shows us the tree plantings undertaken by him and the community (e.g. International Women's Day). If you look at the trees you might recognize some of the seedlings from pictures we sent over the last few years."
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