Life in the villages of Madagascar - Example “Ambohitsara” - Part 1

Despite all the information available from HOPE PROJECTS, it is hard to imagine what life is like for families in Madagascar, especially in villages like “Ambohitsara”.

The following story is an attempt to present life in Madagascar in a meaningful way. It paints a lively picture of what it means to live (and survive) there under the prevailing conditions and it shows what role Hope Projects play in the lives of the people there.

Ezoel wakes up. It’s dark. It’s always dark when it’s time for him to get up. No electric light can change that, because he doesn’t have one. Here in Germany you simply press a small switch and darkness gives way to light. It is four in the morning and the day begins for Ezoel with the search for wood to fill up the family’s supply. Afterwards, the next chore for him and his sister Saida is to fetch water for the family.
They head out loaded with canisters, a quarter of an hour there and a little longer on the way back with the full canisters.
The flickering light of the fire only lights up a small circle in front of the 12 sqm family hut. Mother Lavizandry uses every centimeter of light to prepare breakfast. Eight hungry bellies, including hers, soon want to be fed. Lavizandry is happy that three of her six children are given lunch at the HOPE PROJECTS school in Ambohitsara. In a few months her son, Zazao, can also join the preschool there. She longs for the time when her two youngest, Cleric and Jallia, will also be allowed to go to school. She and her husband, Sergino, originally wanted to marry off the girls to any solvent man, even if he was already over 50. But Jallia will get the “bridewealth” from the school, just like Saida and Zafiline did.

“Bridewealth” is one of the special features at the school in Ambohitsara. It encourages and rewards pupils for good performance. A few years ago, there were still a lot of pupils who had to leave the HOPE PROJECTS school once they turned 12, sometimes even earlier. The girls were married off and the parents received two to three cows in exchange, the so-called "bridewealth" (Moletery in Madagascan). The man’s appearance or his age doesn’t matter. An 18-year-old unmarried girl is considered "left over". The boys are "rented out" as cattle herders for the price of one cow a year. This is why every child at our school with an average of 15 points (20 is the highest score) or more on their annual report card receives a premium of 100,000 ariary, which corresponds to € 35 and is the equivalent of one to two months of a laborer’s salary. In addition, the school fees for the past and the coming year are paid for the families and the pupils are given free school supplies. The number of school dropouts has gone down drastically since the introduction of our "bridewealth".

To be continued…

This article has been translated into English within the PerMondo initiative. PerMondo offers free translation of websites and documents for NGOs so they can spread their message. Managed by the Mondo Agit. Voluntary translator: Jessica Wallace. Proofreader: Thomas McGuinn.

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