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NEW!: Malaria Prevention in Fiadanana

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Report from May 2007

Teacher Training:
According to our village reality we’ll need 2 teachers for the new school. One for kids of two to 8 years of age and one for those 10 years and older. Everyone in Fiadanana wants to go to school, even adults want to learn to write and read. People from neighboring villages also already inquired if they can send their children.

After interviewing many prospective candidates we found two teachers that are a good fit for Fiadanana. One is a young woman teacher and the other one a married man with family and many years of experience as a teacher. Both are willing to move to Fiadanana.

Instead of bringing the teachers to the capital for training we thought it was better to take the trainer to the village and train people and the new teachers there. We opened up this two-week curriculum to other teachers from the region, so they can benefit from Zahana’s training opportunity. Everyone in the village want to attend the training, too, but we could not accommodate so many attendees. The training approach is innovative approach, just recently adopted in Madagascar for teacher’s training. Our trainer is part of this group of 10 people instructed in this field in the country. A class on making compost fertilizer and raising chickens is part of their approach. To satisfy the people’s request, the teachers training started early in the morning around 6:30 am and ended at 4 pm. After that a community class for community leaders followed until dark. After the training is completed, the 2 candidates are going to perform a need assessment in the village and start on a three months evaluation period of teaching.

Nutrition class:
I provided a course on preparing food with ingredient that can be found locally. The bread made with pumpkin was really appreciated and just need one spoon of vegetable oil. This is ideal for school food security, since pumpkin is growing well everywhere in the village, but was so far was only used for feeding pigs. At the beginning they were surprised when I prepared pumpkin as ‘’laoka’’(the other dish to eat with rice). The trainer will later provide additional recipes after the needs assessment.

Improving agriculture:
We invited an agricultural specialist to join us, to see for himself what kind of plants could be grown in Fiadanana. He recommended potatoes since the harvest can be done in three months only. We brought some potatoes with us and started right away, hands on, to plant some in the school garden after the class. We also identified rice fields to be planted by the Zahana women group, and will send 20kg of potatoes this coming week for this purpose. His classes were very interesting, since the specialist was there to assist us and give us the technical advice and answer to all of our questions.

From this year on a technique on planting rice more efficiently will be introduced in the village. The specialist already showed how to get the fields ready. He recommended it become a habit in the village from now on to plant potatoes after the rice is harvested, since is beneficial for the rice fields, too. He knows the variety of rice, which will fit better in the area. You will see on the photos, cucumbers, zucchini are growing up nicely in the school garden, while carrots and cabbage didn’t grow too well in this climate. The womens group has their garden closer to the school, to serve as an example, since the school has not yet started. Parts of their produce are for the school. According to my experience in Hawai‘i, a new school garden will need to be worked by the students themselves from planting to the harvest, each group taking care of their assigned plot of land.

Improving cookstoves and using less firewood:
We tested the improved cookstove design at the women’s group president’s house, and it works. Since we didn’t have much time, we built a very basic model. Later they can work on making it look nice. We use simple, village made, bricks (clay bricks are the best) and used clay to hold them together. I just put three branches into the stove for two pots, one for rice the other for ‘’laoka’’. She was afraid it would not cook well and wanted to add more firewood. But I took the wood out of her hand and promised her to eat it all by myself if the food would not be cooked well. After a while all food was well cooked and kept warm by putting them next to the side of warm bricks. The remaining heat from the fire allowed us to cook our breads. Another model stove will be built at the school pavilion when clay bricks are ready, so cooking classes and school lunches can be prepared there.

Project micro credit:
The woman’s group will start the first microcredit project, with Zahana providing the seed money to kick-start the project. Women are much more interested in improving their condition than the men, and the group has currently 34 active members. The women themselves decided on how to organize structure and run the project. It was interesting to learn about the rules set by the women’s group. They set their own terms and are very strict in executing them. The groups is currently closed to other women, since one of their rules is, that people who are just waiting until all the work is done and want to join without putting in any effort, will have to wait for the time being.

The villagers decided to hold the official inauguration ceremony in the village by the middle of July. They wanted to do so on June, but I told them that the school will start is in July, and the students will need a few days to prepared for it. This will be the day we are going to officially address our thanks to people helping us in making our dreams came true. So if you can come please, come at the time. During my next visit we will decide on the ceremonies it and we’ll send you invitation.

Heath concern:
A survey of 59 households, with 4 to 8 persons each was conducted. Based on the numbers of consultation, from Christmas to now, at CSB 2 in Bevato and the CSB1 in Ambohibary (CBS = Government run Community Health Centers in small towns nearby). Result: 30 consultation with 19 fever, 6 cough, 3 colics, 1 ear infection, 1 case tuberculosis (under treatment), 2 deaths.

Medical Observations:
It was difficult to diagnose the cause for the fevers, but 4 were malaria, based on their symptoms. At night they are protected by the mosquito nets, but outside in the field they are not.

Most of people go to their fields very early in the morning without any breakfast, and only eat rice around 2 pm for the first time. No wonder they were suffering from colic because the pain stopped in the evening, after eating. These are not colics, but pain from hunger.

According to people, at this time of the year most people in the village got sick with malaria or diarrhea in the past. I was happy to learn that no child had suffered from diarrhea since Christmas, which can clearly be attributed to the new water supply. It was emphasized to bring a bottle of water with them (from the new waters system), when they have to go to fields, instead of drinking from a polluted source near their fields. From now on I’m collecting plastic bottles to take along on our next visits.

Next time we need to bring anti-parasitic for all children. We need to treat all children at once, to make sure their potential parasites are treated.

During my last visit I brought vitamins along and gave it to the women’s group. We told them to charge 500 FMG (5 US cents) for each package to generate funds for the group. It worked. The 10 boxes were sold out a few hours later, and some wanted more. This is to initiate them into the idea of participating in economic activities, and not always being dependent on hand outs.

Before I left the village I got some requests for family planning, so I have to think about it for my next visit. I’ll provide all health education to save money for Zahana.


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