A dedicated micro credit fund for rural Madagascar

by Zahana
Showing her growing pigs to Santa
Showing her growing pigs to Santa

Over the years we have reported about Donné and Doré, the two, then boys, who passed all their exams and went on to secondary school. Now young men, they live on their own in the town of Tsiroanomandidy to attend agricultural school.

On a sad note we did also report about their father who last year November. He had brought them a bag of rice and on his way back home fell into a ravine at nightfall and died. Since then we have been trying to find creative ways to support their mother. Not only is she a widow, but also her two young strong sons go to school a few (walking) hours away and are not able to help with the work in the rice fields.

So we were delighted when she approached us as one of the two women in the village of Fiadanana who wanted to raise pigs and participate in our micro-credit program. She participated in the ‘traditional’ buy a bigger piglet, feed it, and sell it after 2 months microcredit project. We are very happy to report that she is very proud of her feeding success and has been showing her pigs off to Santa on his latest visit. The bigger pigs will be ready to be sold early next year.

Happy Holidays and a great New Year!

Ihanta and Markus

Donne and Dore
Donne and Dore's mother

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Delivering the Refrigerator Zahana
Delivering the Refrigerator Zahana's Health Canter

This is a cross-posted report about Zahana's Health Center. Like our reforestation project, the impact of our Health Center in the village of Fiadanana reaches far beyond the boundaries of our villages. People from the surrounding villages come to seek medical help from our paramedic. Some even explicitly expressed that they prefer coming here than walking to the only hospital in the big town of Tsiroanomandidy.

Having a refrigerator is a major step towards modernization and reliable health care delivery in our Health Center. Our founder, Dr. Ihanta writes: “We need a refrigerator to store vaccines as 100% of kids must be immunized and some medicines for hemorrhage post partum have to be stored in a refrigerator as well. Our center is a CARMMA which means it is designated by the Ministry of Health as a specialized health facility to accelerate the reduction of maternal and child mortality rate. We are very proud to be one of the currently 19 designated CARMMA centers in Madagascar. Now that we have found a paramedic that is dedicated to the village we look forward to a bright future for our health center. It is important to note that in all other CARMMA in the country the paramedic or midwifes are female, with the only exception of our Health Center. Since our paramedic had earned the trust of our esteemed Healer Dadaleva the community accepted our paramedic in his new role as the sole health care provider whole heartedly.”

There is one drawback though. Our Health Center currently has two rooms. One room is dedicated to giving birth and possibly stay there postpartum to recover. One room has a bed for people who need to be hospitalized overnight or stay for a few days for observation. In addition there is a small room, or better a broom closet, to store medical supplies and medicines. Because space is limited the only space available for the refrigerator is in the “birth” room. The refrigerator is powered by kerosene and is smelly and noisy. This is a less then ideal situation that we hope to address with the community’s request to enlarge the Health Center. To greatly reduce cost and the need of kerosene and indoor pollution we are currently also on a waiting list for a solar refrigerator from UNICEF.

Happy Holidays – Ihanta and Markus

Our Paramedic with the new refrigerator
Our Paramedic with the new refrigerator
The kerosene powered refrigerator
The kerosene powered refrigerator
Our Health Center has Running Water!
Our Health Center has Running Water!
Visitors to the Health Center 10th Anniversary
Visitors to the Health Center 10th Anniversary

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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

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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...

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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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Organization Information

Zahana

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

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