WHAT IS MACOLLINE AND HOW DOES IT RELATE TO C.A.L.A. AND THE LEPROSY VILLAGES?
The botanical garden Macolline was created by Marie-Helene Kam Hyo as an extension of C.A.L.A.-Comité d’Aide aux Lépreux d’Antalaha (Leprosy Relief Committee of Antalaha). C.A.L.A. is a committee that aids former leprosy patients as well as their families. People affected by leprosy all over the country hear about our villages and come from all over for treatment of the disease. We are located in two separate villages called Jules and Belfort. Once the patients are healed, they do not want to return to the bush and so their families end up joining them at one of the two villages.
This is François. Here we are measuring how much padding to add to his crutches.
C.A.L.A. is determined to reintegrate these victims socially within regular society, so jobs had to be created to avoid permanent assistance. Their return to work is essential, and some are physically disabled because of their former status. Villagers generally can not find work as leprosy creates fear in people, still to this day. This is where MACOLLINE was born; a botanical site that created nurseries for trees and plants and maintenance jobs on site! And in addition, a reforestation project on the coast is a success as planted species that grow in the sand are specifically for the protection from cyclones. This creates a income for the villagers as they work diligently at maintaining this well kept plantation.
Today the two villages have private schools because children were excluded from public schools in the past. Children born to parents do not inherit the disease yet still, the fear is there.
C.A.L.A. started with an elementary and nursery school reserved for children of the village but over the years we are faced with such an influx of registration from outside that we have to limit the number of students to 300. One of the reasons that parents now send their children to our villages for school is that we are the only ones in the region with a lunch canteen and that idea attracts parents from all over the commune. So, integration is working!
As well, in the last couple of years, students at C.A.L.A. have produced excellent report card results. The surrounding villages have gradually realized that our children and their parents no longer transmit leprosy and their children can safely integrate. We have also recently started an educational vegetable garden to improve the menu of the canteen.
Macolline botanical park is an educational forest that equips the school with a tool to raise awareness for the protection of biodiversity.
We need to teach the different forest species and their use. For example; fast growing trees for daily coal and firewood for cooking vs. hardwood trees used for timber. Then there are slow-growing trees i.e.; precious endangered species that must be protected like Rosewood and Eben.
Macolline and is an exceptional organization and nature park and in December 2014, it became an official sustainable tourism site in Madagascar!
Some examples of former patients that are now working are:
BePaul paddles the canoes for Macolline and helps plant and maintain trees!
Josianne manages the tree nursery by planting seeds as well as watering each seedling and caring for its growth!
Fread is the village chief, he makes sure that the village is kept clean and that everybody participates equally! Here he is with his daughter Christiana.
Célestin grows and dries peanuts and then sells them!