Planting 15000 trees in Madagascar

by Zahana
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10th Anniversary Posters
10th Anniversary Posters

Zahana's 10th anniversary was an excellent reason for festivities in the village and an opportunity to celebrate our achievements with the community.

The school they built in 2006 to house students is now in its 10th year. Some of our first students are now parents. Two of them attend agricultural school. The students had their own celebration at their school to show its importance in the village.

The communal water system is running continuously, providing clean safe drinking water for over a 1000 people. This fact alone is amazing. It shows or even proves that our participatory approach really works. It is a sad fact that most development built water systems don't function longer than two years, as pointed out in an excellent TED Talk.  But if a community comes together and tackles their own issues, a water system can run continuously for over a decade. 

Our reforestation project is by now ‘just’ half a decade old, and a ‘youngling’. It is the most visible of all projects and considered by most in the village to be our biggest success (after water and schooling, which is taken for granted already). We recently celebrated “the most trees planted”, which was covered in detail in an earlier project report.

As usual at such events, there were speeches and traditional dances. Especially our teacher enjoyed the opportunity of having a microphone and therefore the undivided attention of the entire community. (Although we were told that many wished there might've been a stricter time limit on the length of speeches...)

For the 10th Year celebration we had been joined by other important health professionals. You see all of them in the photo 6 with the numbers.

1- Dr. Shila, MD
2- Dr. Roccali, MD, Director of Regional Health.
3- Dr. Marguerite, Cardiologist, Zahana founding board member.
4- Dr. Claudine, MD, Office of the Director General of Health
5- "Santa", Office of the Director General of Health and big Zahana supporter who ‘adopted’ the villages
6- Medical Inspector for Tsiroanomandidy (the next town)
7- Patric, Driver, Office of the Director General of Health
8- Theo, Janitor
9- Dr. Ramihantaniarivo, MD, Founder of Zahana and Director General of Health (taking the photo)

You may notice that Theo the janitor has joined the team. This speaks for the uniqueness of the Zahana's approach, since it is in no way 'usual' to give a janitor the opportunity to join a site visit, or the driver to leave the car and join the festivities.

But now to another celebration: GlobalGiving is offering a 50% match on donations made on GivingTuesday Nov. 29. This time GlobalGiving will match until the donations have reached 1 million dollars an amount that far exceeds all prior matching days. If you feel inclined to give to our project, please consider to do so on November 29 and you give 50% more! (Please keep in mind Nov 29 means midnight to midnight EST, where GlobalGiving is based).

Ihanta and Markus

In the limelight: 3rd prize for reforestation
In the limelight: 3rd prize for reforestation
Students waiting in the villag for
Students waiting in the villag for 'it' to start
Our teacher on a role
Our teacher on a role
Listing the activities of the 10th anniversary
Listing the activities of the 10th anniversary
Zahana
Zahana's Team
The prizes for sucessful reforestation efforts
The prizes for sucessful reforestation efforts

In conjunction with the 10-year celebration, Zahana gave out rewards for individual reforestation successes. This time the award was for the most trees planted by an individual that survived the last 3 years.

Yes, it has indeed been 10 years since Zahana built the school and the clean water system in the village of Fiarenana. The fact alone that our communal water system, built by and with the community is still working well and running, is cause for celebration. (See Participatory Development Explained on our website).

The idea behind reforestation rewards:

Over the years Zahana emphasized that not the mere number of trees planted, but the number of trees that literally took root, survived and are growing, is what really counts in successful reforestation. Everybody who has ever even attempted to garden, knows all to well that seeds or even seedlings in the ground does not automatically mean a successful plant or harvest. For us the proof is not in the pudding, but in the photos you can see in our reforestation project reports over the years.

Being acknowledged in public with a ceremony is a great honor for the villagers. This honor is independent from social standing or rank within the community and reflects a great personal achievement. The presence of a reporter from the local TV station in the closest town of Tsiroanomandidy (the one with the video camera in the photos) added gravitas to the award ceremony. The three most successful tree planters were awarded:

The First prize: A Solar cooker. Once again our master gardener Jean won this award

The Second prize: A rocket cook stove (highly efficient wood fired cooker) was awarded to a woman from the community.

The Third prize went to another man named “Bary” (a very common name in Madagascar)

All three finalists got basic necessities that are very valuable in the rural village: a new plastic bucket to carry water, a new plastic tub to wash clothes, a new plastic cup with handle to bail water, coffee, sugar, salt and soap.

1st Prize for Mastergardener Jean
1st Prize for Mastergardener Jean
The 2nd prize winner for reforestation efforts
The 2nd prize winner for reforestation efforts
The 3rd prize winner for reforestation efforts
The 3rd prize winner for reforestation efforts
The rocket stove close-up
The rocket stove close-up
Explaining the solar box cooker
Explaining the solar box cooker

Links:

Dadaleva - first and foremost a healer
Dadaleva - first and foremost a healer

Dadaleva, the tradipractioner (traditional practitioner), passed away in the night of 8 July 2016. Having permission and blessing from his family we went through a simple Zahana celebration a months later (see the photos). The celebration was held in his house. Even he himself didn’t know his own age, and he used to say “more than 60” for the last two decades. But I think he was older than my mother who passed away at 89 a few years ago, so he must have been way over 90 years old. The Famadihana, a traditional Malagasy funeral service was held in the village itself with his entire extended family” [A big event when Malagasies wrap again the bones of their deceased loved one with new shrouds] Dr. Ihanta

Lovingly referred to as the ‘father of the village” by our founder Dr. Ihanta, Dadaleva was not only the heart and soul of the village but also our biggest Zahana supporter. Our work would not have been possible without his unwavering support and blessing from day one, way back in 1998 when Zahana was founded. In 2005 he donated the land on which Zahana’s first school still stands. He was an amazing traditional healer whose skill and ability was sought after from people hundreds of miles away. It was an open secret that when Western doctors in the area “ran out of options” they recommended to see Dadaleva, because if he could not help, nobody could.

We will dearly miss this amazing healer and humble wonderful human being. He has been in many photos over the years, since he was pivotal for many events. Always discretely in the background shying away from the camera, you see him always wearing the traditional Malagasy lamba, regardless of the occasion.

Jeannette and Markus

Dadaleva (2013)
Dadaleva (2013)
Dadaleva in the community meeting about a school
Dadaleva in the community meeting about a school
Dadaleva at the opening of the health center
Dadaleva at the opening of the health center
Dadaleva drinking from the communal faucet
Dadaleva drinking from the communal faucet
Dadaleva in June 2016
Dadaleva in June 2016
Watching our for the young tree
Watching our for the young tree

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).

Our schoolyard way back when in 2007
Our schoolyard way back when in 2007
Same School - Different School Yard 2016
Same School - Different School Yard 2016
Health Center at Inauguration in 2014
Health Center at Inauguration in 2014
Health Center just two years later in 2016
Health Center just two years later in 2016
Shady schoolyard is always good on sunny days...
Shady schoolyard is always good on sunny days...
The trees this little boy has planted are now tall
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).

Ihanta and Markus

Way back when in 2012....
Way back when in 2012....
Planting trees for the next generation
Planting trees for the next generation
Happy Holidays!
Happy Holidays!
 

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Organization Information

Zahana

Location: Antananarivo, Capital - Madagascar
Website: http:/​/​zahana.org
Project Leader:
Markus Faigle
Volunteer
Honolulu, HI United States

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