My months in Antalaha, Madagascar feel like a natural fit. It is inspiring working with people that are so eager and appreciative to have opportunities, however meager they may be. Waking up every morning knowing there is more to life than you, realizing that fulfillment comes from doing your best and doing what is right, being in truth with yourself and having integrity; all of this has helped me to realize that I am creating a wonderful new existence for myself. With more meaning, more certainty and more “aliveness”. Every day I find myself more patient and excepting.
Why compromise and settle for mediocrity, or, just getting by for security rather than passion, or even less than mediocrity; just surviving. What we do, is what we are, and what we become. I want to see others living the best life that they can and live my passion for as long as I can.
My experience to date has lead me to safely conclude that the number one challenge that holds people back from achieving their goals is lack of opportunity. My work with JHA FUND will continue to expand on opportunities and to empower the community of Antalaha, bring hope, inspiration and attempt to help transform the lives of those who wish.
A local mission
To exist as a competent foundation, it is necessary to evolve practically. To be effective, it is essential to live on-site, to understand the daily problems and to develop confidence between JHA FUND, the population of Antalaha and its donors. Locally, it helps to ask the right questions, to have reliable answers, and thus to know the real needs of people. That trust has now been established. After spending another 9 months, waking up every morning knowing I was on mission, I came to realize that our life is very simple. It only becomes complicated and unbearable when you think only of yourself. As soon as you begin helping others around you, life becomes elemental.
One Step at a Time
With the continued lack of development or advancement from the Malagasy government to give people opportunities, Madagascar’s resources are slowly disappearing as will soon the farmers and villagers. All that I can do as a volunteer and as someone that is mindful, is give some hope to the communities that I work with and let love rule while I am alive next to them.
So what makes change actually happen? What is the difference between a successful non-profit vs. an organization that blows hot air? The answer to that is; “people in the field with visions”. I am right here. I live it daily. I feel it. I know it and I know what to do with it. My goal is not to make anyone feel mistreated or misjudged. I don’t assume I know what people in Antalaha need, regardless of their situation, but what I do is I ask and then provide what I am able. Slowly over time, I have gained trust with the locals. Now it’s time to gain it from new donors. There is a need to invest to make these changes, whether it is investments with time or with money. I see myself as a leader that is sincere and can inspire the right actions and activities and so I will invest my time for as long as I can. Over the next few weeks I will be blogging about different projects for my upcoming trip. Enjoy, feel free to leave comments and please pass my website along to others.
-URGENT: A pair of crutches for François of the C.A.L.A. village. If someone knows a donor, please let me know and I will bring them back with me in October. Dimensions are included in these photos.
-Funds needed for education per year:
|Macolline expenses||ARIARY||CAN $|
|Salaries (permanent and part time)||33,466,800||13,387|
|Property maintenance and repairs||7,500,000||3,000|
|Cnaps (social security)||97,000||39|
|Logistic expenses (petrol, drivers, maintenance, canoes)||9,263,430||3,705|
|Salaries of permanent environmental guides||34,800,000||13,920|
|Take home educational booklets||15,000,000||6,000|
|Film, environmental documentary for children||1,500,000||600|
School tuition for villagers needed as well. (more details to come on both these subjects in future blogs)
Trying not to focus on the disasters, I focus on the potential for change. I have been lucky to make friends with many Malagasy people that simply want better for their land and people. And my English club group especially, are smart enough to realize that no one is going to help them, so it is up to them to help each other. And they do. They create clubs, have meetings, elect class officers, and even refer to each other by their title. When one of them is sick or injured, they all pull what ever money they have together and give what they can. They also visit the person as a group. The communal support is heart warming. This is just one of many examples of the people that I have met, I could go on…
Last thing worth mentioning, for now… The people of Antalaha live in very close knit communities, have many offspring, often 6-8 children, most having at least two fathers and often multiple mothers. Half siblings as well as cousins and good friends are all called simply brother and sister. Friends are tight, they often walk holding hands or arm on shoulder and doors to bungalows are always open to visitors with only a sheet covering the entrance to keep out the files and mosquitoes. As you get close to the front door, you call out gently “Odee”, meaning; “Coucou” and then you are invited in with a; “Karibo” (Enter). Just one of the many charms of the culture and the people. Despite the Malagasy people’s shortcomings, they are happy, jovial and peaceful, with a wonderful outlook on life… and death, but that is a whole other blog entry.
I once heard a quote; “As one person I cannot change the world but I can change the world of at least one person”.