A dedicated micro credit fund for rural Madagascar

by Zahana
Vetted
10th Anniversary Poster
10th Anniversary Poster

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 another 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.

No celebration is complete without a feast, and in one of the pictures you can see a large amount of carrot salad being prepared. Since carrots are not grown in the village, and were brought in by the visiting team, carrots in themselves are quite a special treat.

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

They joined the presentation and listened
They joined the presentation and listened
Our most active memeber getting hold of a mic...
Our most active memeber getting hold of a mic...
Fiadanana
Fiadanana's women's group as guests of honor
Carrots, carrots, carrots
Carrots, carrots, carrots
The visiting Zahana Team
The visiting Zahana Team

Links:

Women
Women's Group checking on the pigs

Two microcredit projects Raising pigs are currently active in Fiadanana and Fiarenana and are distinctly different.

In the village of Fiarenana, the woman's group organized themselves into three groups with a very elaborate and ambitious plan: Zahana provided the seed funds and they bought 3 gilts (bigger female pigs), with the intention of raising their own piglets. The plan was to raise 2 litters of piglets with each gilt and then sell the sow, to repay the Zahana loan. The piglets were to be distributed among the women, so each of them could start their own pig-raising project. In the future each woman who got their own gilt and successfully got piglets, would be entitled to keep one female piglet and give the other piglets away for free until every woman in the group would have their own.

Each gilt costs approximately US$50. To kick start the microcredit project three gilts were bought. Two of them had four piglets each and all piglets survived so far. One had six piglets but unfortunately died after giving birth. Consequently Zahana bought another, or fourth gilt, to replace the one that had died, so the team could continue to participate in the microcredit project.

In our other village, Fiadanana, two women opted individually to participate in a piglet micro credit project again. As we have done in the past, they bought a medium size piglet, raising it for three months with the intention of selling it. Each medium size piglet cost approx. $20, a huge amount of cash, way out of the reach for any Malagasy farmer. After 3 months it can be sold for $40, yielding great access to cash and enabling them to pay back their loan in full.

Stay tuned for our next project: chickens. According to our master gardener Jean, who as a key community organizer sees and talks with a lot of people, a chicken disease is going around at the moment so we decided to postpone the launch until the danger passes. The chicken coops are already being built in anticipation of a future launch.

Cheking on their pregnant pig
Cheking on their pregnant pig
Pig in a pen checking things out
Pig in a pen checking things out
Pigs come in all shapes and colors
Pigs come in all shapes and colors
Close-up of piglets coming soon...
Close-up of piglets coming soon...

Links:

Dadaleva
Dadaleva

“Dadaleva, our 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 . 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 donating the land for the school
Dadaleva donating the land for the school
Collecting herbs on the hike to the well (2005)
Collecting herbs on the hike to the well (2005)
Dadaleva with students at Zahana
Dadaleva with students at Zahana's school
Witnessing the first micocredit project (2007)
Witnessing the first micocredit project (2007)
Dadaleva and paramedic in the health center 2016
Dadaleva and paramedic in the health center 2016

Links:

Fiarenana women
Fiarenana women's group infront of their pig pen

We were delighted when the women's groups in both villages approached us (again) with the request of starting a microcredit project: raising, or better fattening up pigs. We bought piglets that were about two-months-old* and provided them to both women’s groups to raise and later, after 4 to 6 months, sell for profit.

In Madagascar this endeavor is always accompanied with diligent record-keeping and signed contracts. In one of the photos you see the head of the women's group in Fiarenana signing the contract under the curious eyes of some of their members. As an integral part of our microcredit strategy Zahana only finances the purchase of the pigs, but the group decides who gets entrusted with the caring and feeding of the first round of new pigs. It is also up to them how to divide the profit from the sale. After the first batch of pigs has been raised successfully, they will rotate the care and feeding of the subsequent piglets among their members. We are doing this in the hope that one day every member of the woman's group will have at least two or three pigs at any given time. This would greatly increase their access to very much needed cash (as well as some meat for their families).

Based on past experiences it is of course possible that the women's group might decide to divide the meat among themselves, instead of selling it for cash, but only time will tell.

*According to our friend who is a specialist in animal raising and has worked for Heifer International for over 20 years in many countries, the raising of piglets is better left to the specialist pig breeder, who knows how to do that. They need vaccinations and other special care that a trained pig breeder knows about, because piglets are most vulnerable when they are very young and can die easily. Once they are two month old and bigger they have a much better chance of 'making it'.

Checking out the pig pen of one of the members
Checking out the pig pen of one of the members
Signing contract for Fiareanana
Signing contract for Fiareanana's women's group
Taking piggy for a walk in the hood
Taking piggy for a walk in the hood
Tending to the pigs in her care
Tending to the pigs in her care
Pig raised next to her house
Pig raised next to her house

Links:

Santa sighted at schools in Madagascar
Santa sighted at schools in Madagascar

Happy Holidays and a Good New Year - from Santa and 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 2007 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

PS: Yes we know all professional fundraisers and helpful materials tell us we should mention the end-of-year tax deducible donation. But you are smart and know that already, so why write more about it?

 

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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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