Zahana is named after a Malagasy word "Zahana" for the medicinal plant Phyllarthron madagascariensis.
Zahana is a registered non-profit organization, based in Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar. Zahana was founded in 1998 by concerned Malagasy citizens to address many of the pressing needs for development in their country. Focusing on rural development, Zahana is working on education, public health, sustainable and environmentally friendly agriculture, reforestation, income generating projects and the revitalization of traditional Malagasy medicine.
Zahana was founded and is run by Malagasy citizens, who in collaboration with the villages they work in set the priorities for their work. Incorporated as and "association benevolante", which is similar to a non-profit organization or a charity in English, all members of Zahana work as volunteers. Due to the economic realities of Madagascar there is no membership fee and as of present (2013) Zahana has no paid staff or rented office space. This keeps overhead to a bare minimum, with all donations going into programs.
The only exceptions are: the two teachers (currently one and a teacher's assistant in 2013) in the village of Fiadanana, who work in the villages school since August 2007 six days a week and the third teacher in the community built school in our second village, with the unfortunately very similar sounding name of "Fiarenana".
Since 2010 Zahana has employed two full time gardeners, one for each village. All receive currently a monthly salary from Zahana. When needed Zahana hires Malagasy in-country specialists, such as water technicians, educational specialists or doctors (pediatricians or disease specialists) that live with the village community they work in during their training.
Zahana is a registered charity, governed by the Malagasy regulation 40-133 from 1960 (Reg. Nr. 454/98 FAR/ANT/AT/ASS from 19 May 1998