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A dedicated micro credit fund for rural Madagascar

by Zahana
A dedicated micro credit fund for rural Madagascar
A dedicated micro credit fund for rural Madagascar
A dedicated micro credit fund for rural Madagascar
A dedicated micro credit fund for rural Madagascar
A dedicated micro credit fund for rural Madagascar
A dedicated micro credit fund for rural Madagascar
A dedicated micro credit fund for rural Madagascar
A dedicated micro credit fund for rural Madagascar
A dedicated micro credit fund for rural Madagascar
A dedicated micro credit fund for rural Madagascar
A dedicated micro credit fund for rural Madagascar
A dedicated micro credit fund for rural Madagascar
A dedicated micro credit fund for rural Madagascar
A dedicated micro credit fund for rural Madagascar
A dedicated micro credit fund for rural Madagascar
A dedicated micro credit fund for rural Madagascar
A dedicated micro credit fund for rural Madagascar
A dedicated micro credit fund for rural Madagascar
A dedicated micro credit fund for rural Madagascar
A dedicated micro credit fund for rural Madagascar
A dedicated micro credit fund for rural Madagascar
A dedicated micro credit fund for rural Madagascar

This is a report that could almost write itself. That is, if we could pause long enough to type without laughing...

In our last report we elaborated the big plan to breed rabbits. First and foremost, for the reason that rabbits are very small and therefore very unattractive and too unruly for cattle thieves. After all, how do you herd rabbits away? Rabbits also breed fast enough to provide meat for a family, or with some planning, even livestock to sell when the appropriate festival time comes around.

So, to try something new, we bought two pair of rabbits and gave one each to the school in each village (see last project report). The pictures of the last project report were taken in October.

Nowadays we communicate mostly with text messages. It is cheap and efficient. The reports about the rabbit breeding program were unexpectedly very sedated and brief. It became apparent that something was not working.

Lucky for us one of the team members who teach building improved cookstoves and bio-charcoal making is an accomplished rabbit breeder for many years in his own backyard. We asked him for help with his expertise.

He went to both villages to inspect the cages and the rabbits. In his expert opinion the result was startling. He concluded: “It looks like the person who chose the rabbits bought one female and three males’

As this is a G rated report, we will be ending here.  

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A pair of rabbits starts it all
A pair of rabbits starts it all

Our Microcredit projects have had very mixed results over the years. We will need to sit down by the end of the year with our new coordinator and have a close look at the successes and failures.

But: there is always a new project in the works. In consultation with an agricultural specialist, his recommendation was simple: breed rabbits. Pigs can easily become the target of the unfortunately more and more common raids by cattle thieves (dahalo), because they are big and can be herded. Rabbits are too small to be of any interest for a cattle thief, since they fetch a small price and cannot just be herded away.

But rabbits can either be eaten or sold during the holiday season in the next town. And rabbits multiply proverbially fast. This time we started small and took a different approach this time. Each school will get one pair of rabbits if and only if the community has built a rabbit house in the schoolyard. Once the rabbits start to multiply, interested villagers can come to the school, learn the ins and outs of rabbit breeding and only then receive their own pair.

Now to a bit of housekeeping:

We hope you will join us for our the end-of-year Giving Campaign.

Looking for something simple?

Become a recurring donor and your first monthly donation will be matched 100% by GlobalGiving. Recurring donors are the backbone of our budget, since monthly contributions are less challenging and nerve-racking than banking on events such as Giving Tuesday or end-of-year giving to raise the money needed to make our work possible.

Best regards,

Ihanta and Markus

Marking the bricks for the rabbit house
Marking the bricks for the rabbit house
Digging for clay on site for the bricks
Digging for clay on site for the bricks
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An improved cookstove made by hand
An improved cookstove made by hand

We proudly announce the first short documentary about Zahana ‘Using eco pellets to stop Madagascar's deforestation”. It was produced by Eberhard Rühle for Deutsche Welle’s series Eco Africa.

Eberhard joined us during our last visit to our villages in Madagascar in October 2019 and has a lot of interesting video material documenting Zahana’s work, with more to come.

Most of the scenes of the documantary are filmed in and around the new school building.

At the same time, we wanted to announce our latest project with Global Giving: Improved cookstoves prevent deforestation.

The most impressive change I saw during our visit was improved cookstoves. It could easily become our most successful new project with long term impact, way beyond our two villages.

The improved cookstove is built by hand, exclusively with locally available resources, that can be gathered in and around the community where people live. Nothing needs to be bought or brought in from the outside.

Building an improved cookstove is taught in hands-on workshops in the community. They bring people together for a common goal: Learn how to make your own cookstove, and also ‘hang out’ and have fun in the process. Building improved cookstoves and building community.

But that’s not all. In keeping with the Zahana’s philosophy, we address more than just a single issue, in this case an improved cookstove, at the same time.

Three major elements cross fertilize each other in this big plan:

  1. Build improved cookstoves for every household.
  2. Teach techniques to produce bio-charcoal from sources other than wood, further reducing the need for firewood.
  3. Participants in the workshop need to commit to personally plant trees, or on a larger level, participate in our reforestation efforts.

If you click on the video "Using eco pellets to stop Madagascar's deforestation” you can see this plan in action for yourself.

We also wanted to get this project ready to launch ahead of December 3 #GivingTuesday campaign with GlobalGiving. Here is the outline from GlobalGiving in a nutshell :

  • GlobalGiving’s 2019 #GivingTuesday Campaign will begin Dec. 3, 2019, at 00:00:00 ET and end at 23:59:59 ET on Dec. 3, 2019.
  • There will be a $500,000 Incentive Fund on #GivingTuesday.
  • The Incentive Fund will be distributed to participants proportionally based on final fundraising totals. This means that, at the end of #GivingTuesday, the projects that bring in the most dollars will win the largest portion of the Incentive Fund and every project that activates donors will earn something. More details.

Looking for something simple?

Become a recurring donor and your first monthly donation will be matched 100% by GlobalGiving. Recurring donors are the backbone of our budget, since monthly contributions are less challenging and nerve-racking than banking on events such as #GivingTuesday or end-of-year giving to raise the money needed to make our work possible.

Another model another artist
Another model another artist
An improved cookstove in the kitchen
An improved cookstove in the kitchen

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The New Midwife in her CARMMA
The New Midwife in her CARMMA

We have a new midwife at our health center in Fiadanana. Everybody in our vilage and beyond benefit from our well-stocked Health Center.

As public servants, paid by the Ministry of health, midwives get rotated to different posts every few years. With this one, we are turning an exciting new page in the history of our CARMMA, with a woman as midwife. Recently graduated, she has the most up-to-date knowledge possible. She jumped right in and personally visited all household in ours and the other 4 surrounding villages that are served by our CARMMA. Going door-to-door, she sought our all pregnant women in her CARMMA’s service area of 1801 people (number subject to change). She met each woman personally to talk about the advantage of prenatal exams. This is the first time a maternal health worker took the word out-reach literally, personally assessing the scoop of need out there. She is highly respected by the community for her efforts.

She also brought an adorable little daughter and her husband into the community. This is an exciting new development, because her husband is very interested in sports and immediately took over as coach for the football clubs. He is therefore continuing an important tradition, that sports activities and our health center are intertwined. He also has become the pro forma new driver for our health center. Our midwife is tasked with outreach to neighboring villages, to provide health services where there is no Health Center and administer the mandatory child vaccinations outlined in the millennium development goals. To meet this tremendous need in neighboring communities most efficiently, Zahana provided her with a motorbike. Mobility allows her to do within a few hours, what in the past required two or three days of walking. With a personal driver at her disposition, she can attend to medical needs and emergencies immediately after arrival. And with less spend time spent on the road, she can spend more time at the CARMMA, focusing on maternal and child health and providing a safe and sanitary birthing environment.

Dr. Evelyne, MD, one of Zahana's board members and a retired maternal health specialist, has offered to provide her with additional tailor-made training. This is a very generous offer, and we can greatly benefit from Dr. Evelyne’s expertise of over 30 years working in this field. In a long public service career, she has been a medical inspector on a provincial level, and is very familiar with the challenges and settings in rural communities on the village level.

Background: Our Health Center is one of the 26 CARMMA in Madagascar, inaugurated in May 2014. CARMMAs, as brick-and-mortar buildings are uniquely Malagasy, because they combine the traditional health center with a strong maternal health focus. In other countries in Africa CARMMA is a theoretical program, only in Madagascar CARMMA are brick and mortar facilities. People from neighboring villages without a health center also seek services there. More about this on our website.

Last but not least. We are proud to report: Since we build the clean water system in2006, until now, in 2019, no child has died in the village. In our CARMMA, infant as well as maternal mortality is zero, which is a fancy way of saying no mother or baby have died during birth. Uncontrolled bleeding is one of the most common and preventable causes of maternal death. In rural Madagascar this is preventable, if you are lucky enough to give birth in a CARMMA with much needed medicines stored in our solar refrigerator.

The new Midwife with Regional Health Director
The new Midwife with Regional Health Director
Out-reach by motor bike
Out-reach by motor bike
The midewife's daughter
The midewife's daughter
The New Midwife in her CARMMA at work
The New Midwife in her CARMMA at work
Innauguration of our new school building
Innauguration of our new school building
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New School building right, first one to the left
New School building right, first one to the left

The inauguration of our second school building June 2019 is exciting news and a major milestone for Zahana in many aspects. Watch the cutural dance performance of the inaguaration on our YouTube channel.

Looking back or context: Our first school was built by the community in 2006, right after they built their clean water system.*

We are honored the inauguration was attended by the education director of the Bongolava Region. (Madagascar is divided into 22 regions (faritra). A region can very loosely be equated an administrating unit, like a state, but without a governor. The capital of the 4th largest region is Tsiroanomandidy with an estimated population of over half a million. He is the highest ranking official for education in Bongolava. His presence to attend personally at this event is quite symbolic. Other dignitaries were the Medical Inspector for the Region and members of the ministries of health and local authorities.

Second aspect: Our second school building in 2019 was constructed and paid for by a French NGO. The founder Abel Legendre of the Association Pour que Vive Maroala attended the inauguration (with the white hat). Zahana was charged with buying the furniture and school supplies in addition to paying our teachers. We are very pleased at this collaboration and synergy that Zahana makes possible. This is the first major contribution by another donor for education, one of our core pillars of Zahana’s development philosophy. The same NGO also generously built the CARMMA, our maternal health focused health center in Fiadanana in 2014. The community got a beautiful, brand new second school building, without too much impact on our Zahana budget.

Aspect 3: This is more than a school.

This is the rural university we had always envisioned. Zahana has great plans for this school. It is designed to become a focal point for community wide education, including agriculture know-how transfer. The intention is to go beyond the scope of our current primary school(s) educational focus. “It is a school for all people living in the region,” our founder Dr. Ihanta explains. “It will provide an extensive curriculum that goes beyond traditional primary school education. Once the primary school in the morning is finished, the younger students can attend other classes oriented on their local needs, to improve their lives, when they become adult community members. Learning the ABC or math will be complemented by ‘real life skills’. We want to further involve and encourage adults to come, many of whom might have never attended a formal school before. As well as members of neighboring communities, widening the scope of our outreach exponentially. We are currently developing the new curriculum, and our rural university will officially ‘start’ in August.”

We are envisioning classes on agricultural improvements, by taking advantage of existing resources, but applying new innovative techniques (SRI comes to mind as a possibility), that lead to better yields or introduces new, diversified crops beyond rice and corn (maize). Reforestation and hands on building of improved cook stoves will also be part of our curriculum. Health, and especially maternal health and nutrition classes, will be offered. This new exciting challenge is very much an evolving process with a flexible curriculum that grows, changes and adapts, based on the community needs and the seasons.

Stay tuned for the new exciting developments in the coming months and years.

Ihanta, Jeannette and Markus

Students performing for the ceremony
Students performing for the ceremony
Dignitaries attending the opening
Dignitaries attending the opening
Traditional dance group performing
Traditional dance group performing
Regional education director cutting the ribbon
Regional education director cutting the ribbon
Visitors discussing the future of the school
Visitors discussing the future of the school
Education director, builder and funder of school
Education director, builder and funder of school

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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

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