- 07 Sep 2011
Well its been our busiest mission so far, with many projects and heaps more volunteers joining us.
We’ve had so much fun!
Our film girl Lauren who does all of our videos has come twice this year and blessed us heaps. She filmed some of the works we’re doing, and has already made a cool video called “movin on up.” Lauren is also making other video’s for us. She is amazing.
A girl from the Central Coast NSW, Sarah, came and made/taught some arty stuff, and made some jewelry etc for us to sell in Australia, to help support the ministry. She also helped to start a new program called “Mamma’s off the street.” We are finding mothers on the street and trying to find sponsors for them to get them off the street and into a house. It costs around $10-20 a month to rent a comfortable room for a family. We also provide the family with a bed, blankets, cooking pots and utensils, a bucket, and basic healthcare products. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to know more or sponsor a family. We will let you know about the families and prices of rentable houses available. Sarah blessed many people and helped us very much, she took heaps of great photos too.
We had three true blue Aussie farmers come for ten days. Adam, Ben, and Brad, these guys worked a solid week at our first orphanage project in Soavinandriana. Wow!
Some of the works these guys did:
- Set up running water
- Built a non smelling toilet block with shower and eco hot water which runs off into a sewerage pit and then the grey water runs off into a realm drain. (lots of digging)
- Constructed a fertilizer pit to catch worm pee.
- Cleared the land for a modern pig pen and set all the posts in and some of the fencing.
- Taught farming of fruit, vegetables, and cattle on two different occasions to some of the people in the local villages.
These guys worked so hard and efficiently, they brought new methods and skills that have blessed many people and our own work projects. Much of what they brought and their example of working hard has worn off on our staff and volunteers. We’re getting a lot more done these days.
A girl named Isobel from the Sunshine coast QLD came and was great! What a character! Everyone here loved her and noticed when she left. She brought her skills in sewing and design etc and made some funky accessories which we will sell in Australia to help support CSM works. She worked hard to make some school uniforms for children we school in Mahajanga, and is still working on them. She also helped to paint the toilet block at our orphanage. She was so creative and she taught our staff how to cook some Aussie style tomato soup, was very nice!
One of Isobel’s good friends, Lisa, came too! What can I say! She was epic! What a cool person! She is a hairdresser, who came not knowing how she could help, but blessed us all so much. We have a video in the making of the poor being transformed. Lisa did the transformations of many people, cutting/styling hair and doing make-up and accessories. She also taught much needed lessons on communication and listening skills, I definitely needed those lessons. Lisa has it on her heart to start up a new program called “Kids in school.” A massive problem in Madagascar is lack of education. Families don’t have enough money to keep their kids in school. Only 6% of teenagers finish school. Many children are not going to school! It cost’s around $6-$8 a month for school fees. Lisa has already done some of the preparation work for this program, and we will be ready to run it soon. If you’re interested in knowing more or sponsoring a child or two, email us at email@example.com She’s a good girl Lisa!
We had a very talented crafty girl/great photographer etc… Named Angelina, She was so full of energy! And had a nice singing voice. She was so great with the Malagasy children, several random babies and kids fell asleep on her. Angelina taught some of our staff how to make a bunch of cool arty things like gift cards, earrings etc which we can sell in Australia to help support the ministry. Angelina is a fighter, a great woman.
My mum Theresa came! That was a funny experience, the people loved my mum and she seemed to love them too. Mum taught lots of computer skills to one of our staff members Lova. She brought from Australia about 30 kilos of clothing, swim wear, and many jumpers and scarves a lovely elderly lady, Pam from the Coast, knitted for children in the cold. She bought heaps of lollies and gave them out to hundreds of people and she helped to paint the toilet block of our orphanage. It was a great encouragement for me to have mum come and see the work I’m part of first hand. She was fun and a blessing.
Lauren!! Lauren came back again! She filmed up a storm.. A video clip is being made by her on the goals of CSM to see transformations in peoples lives. Lauren also helped to paint the toilet block at our orphanage. She is very creative at what she does… We’re so grateful for her hard work in making all the videos and doing all the things she does to help us show the world what we’re doing in Madagascar. Stay tuned for some of her videos.
Nadia a doctor, (known here as the doctor who smiles and prays) and Leisha a nurse (known here as the quiet angel) are currently here now. They are doing great things in Madagascar. We’ve been setting up temporary health clinics in Soavinandriana, Mahajanga and Tana. Freely treating many people that struggle to afford going to the doctor. We have a future goal to train up the locals to care for their own. This week we are heading south to Vangaindrano, with some stops along the way at unreached villages, treating the sick and giving out jumpers to children.
More volunteers are arriving soon, from Australia and Poland.
Some other news… In Mahajanga, we have been given 65 hectares of great land, on four different blocks. Not far from the town. Paper work for 15 hectares of that land is done, and in our name. Our staff members Fidy and Nina are doing a great job there keeping things running there.
We have got the volunteers to do swimming lessons on 3 afternoons in Mahajanga, many people young and old die from drowning in Madagascar because they don’t know how to swim. One of our staff members, Fidelice, had a brother who drowned at the beach we taught at.
The orphanage progress in Soavinandriana is great! All the outer walls and internal rooms have been bricked up completely. We are working on the roof now.
CSM carpentry in Mahajanga is working very well, we’ve made lots of furniture for our base houses,and bunk beds, windows, and doors for the orphanage in Soavinandriana. We’ve also made 14 bee houses for CSM Honey in Vangaindrano. CSM Carpentry is making some money and we are building up a clientele. The most exciting thing is we have the most skilled carpenter in Mahajanga and the surrounding 100 km radius, training up 4 interns. One day we’ll be able to give more responsibility to these interns.
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Chosen Servant Ministries
If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.18 Jul 2011
- 06 May 2011
Antananarivo — Poverty has increased dramatically in Madagascar since January, when a national protest movement to end the regime of former president Marc Ravalomanana plunged the country into a socio-economic crisis. Since then, the number of child labourers has risen by a whopping 25 percent.
Two million children under the age of 15 go to work every day instead of attending school, according to newly published research by the International Labour Office (ILO), United Nations children’s fund UNICEF and the National Institute of Statistics (known by its French acronym, INSTAT).
In Ambalakely, a rural town in the south of the island, more than a hundred children pitch up for physically gruelling work in the local stone quarry. They crush stones alongside their parents to produce rubble for the building industry. Due to widespread poverty and unemployment, day labour under the harshest conditions is their only means of survival.
“We leave home early each morning to reach the place. We don’t return until late in the evening,” said Jeannine Raheriniaina, a mother of four. To justify the presence of her children at the quarry, she hastens to say: “We have no other means to ensure our livelihood. They are here on their own (free will) because they know what their parents endure.”
Her seven-year-old son, Mamitiana complains about the hard and exhausting work he has to perform each day: “I have to crush two big bags of gravel per day to make my mother happy.”
The ILO, UNICEF and INSTAT study found about 1.8 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 years have to work, and most are performing hazardous occupations, despite the fact that child labour is against international and Madagascan law. Many children are working as day labourers in the fishing industry, in stone quarries or as domestic servants, and most have to leave school and miss out on receiving even the most basic primary education.
The fate of one exploited teenager recently received national attention. 17-year-old Jeannine Razananirina from Behenjy, 60 kilometres south of the islands capital Antananarivo, was seriously injured when her employer deliberately burnt her with boiling water in June, and social workers helped her to lay charges.
“I could not bear the hardship any longer. I had no-one to rely on. After my experience, I will advise girls in my countryside not to go working in Antananarivo any more,” the teenager said.
Razananirina’s case is not an isolated one, but children’s plight gets little attention on the island. Poverty forces parents to ignore laws prohibiting child labour.
“It’s hard to educate parents who work in the stone quarries about the importance of sending their children to school,” said Berthine Ralaivelo, director of Ilempona Primary School. She says many children come to school irregularly, depending on whether they have to work that day. As a result, enrolment figures fell this year from 50 percent to about 20 percent in the primary school, according to Ralaivelo.
Apart from denying children their right to education, child labour bears great health risks. According to the survey, 37 percent of child labourers said their activities have caused them harm. Many reported falling ill or being injured, with those performing physical tasks in the mining, manufacturing and agriculture sectors being the most vulnerable.
Ever increasing poverty has turned child labour into normality in Madagascar. According to 2005 figures from UNICEF, almost 70 percent of the population live on under $1.25 per day. Although there are no recent statistics available, experts reckon the number of extremely poor people has increased substantially since the beginning of the socio-economic crisis earlier this year.
“Poverty is the main cause for child labour. Parents don’t have the means to feed their families, so they involve their children in work to increase the amount of money they make,” explained Norotiana Jeannoda, president of the Association of Graduated Professionals in Social Work in Antananarivo.
“A day in a stone mine makes 1,900 Malagasy ariary ($1). The more family members work, the more money they make.”
- 06 May 2011
A recent British Broadcasting Corporation radio programme, “Crossing Continents”, has highlighted the dire social conditions of the working people on the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar. The programme was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on July 29 and repeated August 2.
In March last year, Andry Rajoelina took power in the country with the support of the military. Rajoelina, a wealthy business man and former disc jockey, entered politics by becoming mayor of the capital city of Antananarivo in December 2007. He used this power base to challenge the then Malagasy president, Marc Ravalomanana, whose increasing authoritarian rule was opposed by the masses.
Rajoelina organised opposition rallies and a general strike to challenge Ravalomanana’s rule, saying he was the real leader of Madagascar. These rallies were met with force by the government and opposition supporters were killed. Ravalomanana sacked Rajoelina as mayor. Rajoelina was able to prevail with the help of the military who put him in power and Ravalomanana went into exile in South Africa.
The African Union denounced Rajoelina’s actions as a coup and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) proposed applying sanctions against Madagascar. Western governments including the United States reinforced this by cutting off aid to the impoverished country.
As the radio documentary showed, it is the masses of Madagascar, not the elite, who are suffering as a result of the ongoing isolation of the country by the international community. The boycott by big donors including the World Bank and the European Union has led to a 50-70 percent cut in state budgets.
Linda Pressly, the radio documentary presenter, went to one of the 45 centres in Madagascar that had been set up to provide intensive nutrition to treat children with severe acute malnutrition, who without this intervention would die. Prior to the current political crisis, children being treated would get free milk, medication and treatment until they were ready to be discharged.
At the feeding centre attached to Befelatanana hospital in Antananarivo there was only one patient in spite of the fact that half of Malagasy children suffer malnutrition. Three-year-old Donne had tuberculosis exacerbated by his malnutrition. His grandmother explained how she had paid £35 for his 10-day treatment, equivalent to a month’s wage in a factory.
The centres now have to charge for feeding and medical treatment. A doctor explained that parents no longer bring their children because they cannot afford to pay.
UNICEF has not provided any alternative funding despite the growing poverty. A local UNICEF representative said “children are the innocent and unintended victims of political crisis and economic decline.”
Rising poverty means that families can no longer afford to send their children to school and are having increasing difficulty in providing them with an adequate diet. A quarter of all the health care centres have been forced to close. The purchase and distribution of drugs throughout the whole country are collapsing.
Another indication of the growing social crisis is that 18 women who have given birth over the last year have left, abandoning their babies at the Befelatanana hospital. Pascal, a community volunteer, explained that small children are being abandoned on the streets by parents no longer able to afford to care for them. He was distributing posters of a small girl in an attempt to find the parents. This was not a unique case and he knew of many similar instances.
Under Ravalomanana, Madagascar had been able to benefit from the US African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), giving it duty-free and quota-free ability to export to the US. As a result the country became a cheap labour platform producing textiles for export to the US. Textiles accounted for 60 percent of the country’s exports with a value of $600 million a year. Some 50,000 people were employed in the industry.
Following the coup the US suspended the AGOA agreement and the industry has virtually collapsed. Pressly visited one such factory, which had employed 4,500 workers. It was now deserted. Its rows of sewing machines were mothballed under plastic sheets. The general manager told her that he had been forced to stop production following the suspension of trade with the US.
Rosa worked at the factory for seven years. She explained that she had lost her job and was now at home looking after her two children. Her husband works in the capital city at the informal street markets that have mushroomed since the coup. He is only able to scrape together $1 to $1.50 a day. The family can no longer afford to send their children to school. They are falling behind with the rent and fear eviction.
Another product of the political crisis and uncertainty is the explosive growth in the export of rosewood. Rosewood trees abound in the national forests in the north-east of the island. It had been and remains illegal to export rosewood. Prior to the coup controls this meant the trees were not taken except in strictly licensed small-scale instances. Since the coup it has been open season. The wood is highly prized in China and it is thought most of the illegally logged wood ends up there.
Labourers in the forest villages have to rely on this trade as their only source of income. They may get paid $2 for dragging out the felled trees that weigh around a tonne. Local merchants will pay around $53 for a 3-metre log of Rosewood, which on the international market could fetch $1,300.
The trade, which is thought to be worth around $230 million a year to the handful of timber barons who control it, has generated widespread corruption. Without the right government connections the wood could not be exported. Around 100,000 trees were exported last year. In one case the paperwork, permitting the export of 79 containers of the wood bound for China, was signed by the then prime minister. A government spokesman has since claimed the signature was a forgery.
The illegal logging is leading to the destruction of Madagascar’s unique ecological treasures. The island, geologically isolated for hundreds of millions of years, has rare animal and plant species. It is renowned for the many species of lemurs which inhabit the island. The logging is damaging this environment. Lemurs are being hunted for bush meat and the operations to fell and drag out the huge trees are damaging large areas of the forests.
Meanwhile, the political crisis continues because the island remains the subject of rival imperial interests. France, the former colonial power, sent its new ambassador Jean-Marc Chatainger to Madagascar two days after Ravalomanana stepped down. He met with Rajoelina and stressed the importance of the relationship between France and Madagascar.
According to an Africa Confidential report of October 8, 2009, France has continued to send aid to the country and pressed other countries to resume their aid programmes.
Rajoelina keeps promising to hold elections in which he says he will not stand. But so far he has not set a date. Ravalomanana in turn came to power in 2002 after a six-month period of dual power in which he and Didier Ratsiraka, the incumbent president, vied for power. Ravalomanana triumphed after the US said it would recognize him as the legitimate president. Ratsiraka, who had close connections with France, was given sanctuary there.
It is clear that after 18 months of intrigue and political instability it is the poor masses of Madagascar who are bearing the brunt of cuts in aid and trade to this already impoverished country.