Well in to the second month of my stay. Time is flying by, as I knew it would. There is so much to do and the time passes by so quickly. I wish that I could blog more often but I find myself so tired at the end of the day that even if I do have a few minutes, it’s to help promote Macolline or to email family and close friends with little updates. At times, I even check what’s going on in the rest of the world. We are really cut off from everything geographically and so even when I do hear news, it seems so irrelevant compared to what goes on here daily. Also, due to a low supply of fuel throughout the whole country, the electricity is turned off for most of the day and evening. It comes and goes, sometimes on a schedule, other times, it’s random.
So I apologize in advance if this entry is long winded…
CALA village update:
Most recent project with the schools at the villages is with the school principle, Olivia. This summer, she completed her high school diploma in Antananarivo and we are all very proud of her. Next step this year is to help her manage things like inventory of school supplies and keeping files for each teacher, canteen worker, noting their absences, lates, no shows etc… Before school opened this month, we prepared a budget and using our donations, we went to the market to get everything needed for the first term. She was very prudent in sticking to our plan and even haggled when necessary. She was determined to buy a clock (to help children tell time naturally!) and when she finally bargained them down to the price that she was willing to pay, she even made them include a battery for free! Don’t mess with Olivia. She is great for this role and with a little direction, she’ll be running the schools with her eyes closed and she’ll even be able to empower the next person in line! And so the cycle will continue and the school will grow and thrive as a result. Next on her list, she has asked me to help her prepare letter templates of encouragement as well as discipline for the staff.
So much to do… Actually, I will take this moment to ask if anyone happens to have French templates, to please send them to me by email as translating everything that I have from my logistic days in Toronto is a mission in itself!
Unfortunately, the UNWTO (World Tourism Organization) in our region was cancelled, and we were only informed a few days in advance. We had just about finished preparing everything at Macolline. Luckily, two (2) tour operators came regardless, so it wasn’t all in vain. They were thrilled with what they saw. They promote Macolline when tourists ask what there is to do in the SAVA region. The funds that this brings in helps support the nature site and in turn, the CALA villagers that work there to keep it maintained.
In the next few days I will be creating a new page on my website allowing you to adopt a tree in Madagascar at Macolline. I will blog the details once it’s up and running so that you can have a look and hopefully participate!
Also this month, Richard Bohan of France, a marketing consultant for sustainable tourism was here and we had a meeting about how Macolline can participate for Madagascar. As a result, I created survey sheets for visitors to fill out after they have seen Macolline. We also started a major clean up with the CALA kids. They are all so eager to help and love being a part of something!
Mr. Bohan will be back in November to make sure that we are following protocol for sustainable tourism. The fact that all these efforts create work for the former leprosy CALA villagers makes Macolline a fair trade tourist destination!
Yesterday I took the US Peace Corps team to Macolline for a hike and a canoe ride. We had Odon the local guide with us but his English is still at a basic level, so I was there to explain and Odon pointed out the wild life (the local guides here can spot chameleons, spiders, frogs etc… with no effort, where as I need them pointed out!). It was really a pleasure to speak in English and to be able to share common expressions and sense of humour. The Peace Corps come to Africa to volunteer for a two year period to teach English. They are placed in schools around the region and they live with host families. They were the first people to fill out the survey sheets and I am very happy with the results.
There is so much to do with the CALA villages and Macolline that I haven’t been able to start evening English classes to adults yet. Although, I did speak to the mayor of Antalaha and when I am ready, he has agreed to lend me a classroom at his office, as long as I cover the electricity costs. Aiming for mid November as I get asked all time when I will start.
Last but certainly not least, Jiji the clown from France is coming back to Antalaha! We had been in touch over the months and I am thrilled to be a part planning his return. One more thing on the list to organize! He will of course do a performance at both CALA villages to start (I’m biased) and then I’ll hook him up with the mentally challenged group at Orchidee Vanille at the Red Cross, next will be show on the beach for the public. My favourite is when he arrives at the beach, in order to get everyone’s attention; he simply starts sweeping the sand! It’s absolutely hilarious, so simply and universally funny. I’ll blog more about the success of his visit, as I’m sure the kids are all going to be very excited about his return! I know I am!!