A dedicated micro credit fund for rural Madagascar

by Zahana
Vetted
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

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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

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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?

Potatoes and Mparany the head teacher
Potatoes and Mparany the head teacher

One of our most successful microcredit projects was to introduce potatoes in Fiarenana. Intended as an in-between crop for the time after the rice harvest and before the new rice planting. The project was so successful that we repeated it a second time the following year. You can read all about it the past success in our ‘potato story’.

One puzzling experiences in our participatory community development endeavors was, that the potato project did not continue a third time, let alone become a new tradition, such as tree planting every year. It sure was not for the lack of trying, hence the use of the word ‘puzzling’. We, that is Zahana, had been asking at certain intervals what happened to the potato project, and why they decided not to repeat it, despite an amazing harvest (two tons of potatoes with 100 kg of small potatoes as seed stock). All inquiries were met with very polite silence. In Malagasy culture not talking about something is also an answer. Despite our continuing curiosity or interest, why this most successful project did not continue, we got the message and at some time politely stopped asking. While this is frustrating for us, because we would really like to know what kind of impediments or difficulties might need to be addressed, we needed to take a step back and just ‘let it be’.

Needless to say that we were delighted when our schoolteacher in Fiadanana approached us with a request for potatoes. His, the neighboring village, did not participate the last time. What you see in the photo is a sack full of potatoes that was entrusted to him for a new micro credit ‘potato project’.

Now we just have to wait and see, with great anticipation, if potatoes might take off this time around. Three is a charm after all. And, we have a certain inkling based on experience, that this project has a huge potential for success.

Checking out the new potatoes
Checking out the new potatoes

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Donne and Dore at home studying for the exam
Donne and Dore at home studying for the exam

Some events vibrate through the entire community and affect everybody. Seeing one of theirs off to high school has nver happened before.

At 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  they were the among the 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 the village of 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.

Donne and Dore
Donne and Dore's parental house in Fiadanana
Checking out the lists on the door for the exam
Checking out the lists on the door for the exam
Their parents the day before the exam
Their parents the day before the exam
Inside, waiting for the test to start
Inside, waiting for the test to start
ID Papers in hand waiting for the exam to start
ID Papers in hand waiting for the exam to start
 

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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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