Communities often know what they need. The people actually on the ground growing vegetables for themselves and their communities know what projects should do and whether the project is working.
But to help us even better understand whether our projects are meeting a community’s needs, we may engage a bilingual local liaison to share program ideas, struggles, and results back to us.
In Madagascar, we partner with Caring Response Madagascar Foundation (CRMF) on a program that combines women’s literacy training with gardening. Charlotte, a former Peace Corps volunteer, serves as such a liaison for the CRMF program. She recently shared a story about her site visit with us. She begins with a quote from a participating family:
Stories from the garden
“I really enjoy gardening. Since we just had our first baby girl, it has been so nice to be able to produce fresh vegetables for our family. Sometimes we eat the vegetables and if there are too many we sell it to others in the neighborhood. This allows us to save a little money to purchase other items that we need. Last yield, we harvested so many different variety types: cauliflower, zucchini, cabbage, and eggplant. You know what my favorite part of having a garden has been? Well, it is truly seeing that you are produce something from seed to vegetable. How beautiful it is to see the plant grow and turn into something that is edible. It makes me happy to be able to provide for my family. “
Madagascar site visit report by Charlotte
1. A couple of family compounds with gardens
2. Literacy promoters
3.Local seed sellers
4. Examined the various diseases that have been damaging plants in this region
I will be coming back out here to visit the literacy homes and gardens in the next coming months. Right now is low season, there were no crops in the garden, all had been harvested.
The format and structure of the literacy centers has shifted, as explained by Program Manager, Vero:
“This year we have changed our this to concentrate all our centers (except two of them) in five districts out of 138 in the city of Toamasina.
Last month we did a house to house survey in these 5 districts. Survey results told us that1200 people don't know how to read and write, but there are about 150 volunteers ready to teach them and hundreds of families coming forward to give the space in their houses for running literacy centers!
Two weeks ago,all these volunteers were given a special training on how to teach literacy to adults. we got ready all the books, slates, black boards for 109 literacy centers in these 5 districts. All these centers have started teaching. Our more experienced literacy teachers will be promoters or type of supervisors visiting all these literacy centers every day and helping out the volunteers.
We would like to bring 100% literacy to these 5 districts. We have just started, and we have a long way to go.
Regarding the garden project we would like to propose that the literacy supervisors will be taught first hand how to use these and they in turn will take teach special classes in the literacy centers when they make periodical visits to the 109 literacy centers and the other two previous ones.”
SPI Madagascar Fact Find by Peace Corps Volunteer Charlotte
We sat down together and here is a list of 10 types of vegetable seed they are interested in.
7. Mustard Greens
Languages Spoken: (Malagasy, French)
1. Literacy Promoters are hired staff by the Brothers of St. Gabriel program. They have been trained and given documents to teach the local volunteer teachers how to disseminate information and properly teach.
2. Volunteer teachers are spread out, they are local Malagasy men and women who have chosen to help out their community members. They are trained by the Literacy Promoter and given teaching materials and classroom materials (chalk, small blackboard, books, pens, etc.…) They open their home to students to receive a positive learning experience.
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