Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Kaominina Mendrika!

Well, we’ve made it to the official end of the first cycle of my community health improvement project Kaominina Mendrika (Champion Communes)! What now? A big sigh of relief, a little bit of dancing, and a lot of courage to take us into the second cycle!

But for now – the dancing. 23 communes (like a township, smaller than a county) in our province (80 nation-wide) participated in the first year of the project – and as of right now, it seems all 23 earned a festival to celebrate the successful achievement of the communal objectives. So my job, along with my regional coordinator and other workers at SantéNet, during the month of October is to travel to as many of them as I can humanly manage (there’s sometimes 4 in one day scattered across the province).

The general and almost unvarying program:

1) Parade of school children and local community groups ending in a central area 3) Speeches given by authorities (and me…:-P ) 4) Traditional singing and dancing by women’s groups and school children 5) Presentation of certificates to the important workers 6) Unveiling of the community plaque 7) A reception “cocktail” for the authorities 8) A rice lunch for the authorities 9) “Stand” displays of items from women’s groups, parent-teacher associations and local farmers’ cooperatives and radio quiz competition for the kids 10) Sometimes and evening “disco” (hence the dancing…thought I’ve managed to avoid this up to now – usually involves as much drinking as dancing…drunk Malagasy men, especially when they are authorities, are not really my thing)

So there’s a brief look at what I’ve been doing recently – and I promise to try to upload some photos of the events tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A dollar a day...

My apologies for not writing an original blog entry, but I’m really strapped for time right and I really think this item is a worthy substitute for my usual rambles. It’s a radio journal exploring what it really means to “live on less than a dollar a day,” as many people do in developing countries. The story was done in Malawi, which has many similarities, statistically speaking, to Madagascar. Some of the major differences: Malawi has already suffered greatly from the AIDS epidemic – a crisis that is still on the future horizon for Madagascar; Malawi has regular famine issues but Madagascar generally doesn’t have true generalized “famine” as much as chronic hunger. What the family in the story chooses to spend their few cents would of course be different in Madagascar, as would the actual cost of the items bought, but overall, it’s a very good description of the real day-to-day struggle that is life in too many places, especially in Africa. Read, listen and enjoy!