November 12, 2004: Headlines: COS - Madagascar: PCVs in the Field - Madagascar: Personal Web Site: tonga soa e! (welcome!) chad's madagascar homepage

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Madagascar: Peace Corps Madagascar : The Peace Corps in Madagascar: November 12, 2004: Headlines: COS - Madagascar: PCVs in the Field - Madagascar: Personal Web Site: tonga soa e! (welcome!) chad's madagascar homepage

By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Monday, November 29, 2004 - 4:31 am: Edit Post

tonga soa e! (welcome!) chad's madagascar homepage

tonga soa e! (welcome!) chad's madagascar homepage

tonga soa e! (welcome!) chad's madagascar homepage

tonga soa e! (welcome!) chad's madagascar homepage

I live in the small village of Ankily, which is about four kilometers west of Ihosy in southern Madagascar (see the red star on the here to see a larger view of the map).

Madagascar is an island nation something like 200 miles off the east coast of Africa across from Mozambique...which means it is pretty much in the middle of nowhere.

The Malagasy people are a very diverse population. Some trace their ancestry to Indonesia, while others descend from mainland Africans.There are 18 ethnic groups living on the island, and each speaks their own dialect of the official langauge, Malagasy.

Check out the links below for more on Madagascar...

village life in ankily

every Malagasy boy grows up a soccer they play at every chance they get. here, todzo advances the ball "downfield" in the village schoolyard

doda and tonga are neighborhood kids and friends of mine (isn't it funny that two of my best friends in ankily are 14 year-olds?)

the townspeople love gatherings of any it's not difficult convincing people to come to a village meeting like this one (provided i am serving "toaka," or malagasy sugarcane rum)

ahhh, the ihosy taxi-brousse station...i spend so much of my time here. but the time is not wasted because i get to hang out with my friend donald, who works there.

sometimes i just like to relax on my front porch and do nothing but talk to people (or not talk to them) as they pass by my house.

i live in the center of town, so there is always a constant stream of curious souls who come by to see what the "vazaha" is doing.

the view from my front porch is of a corn field, a couple of latrines, a large mango tree....and "bar niriko" which is owned and operated by my friend freddy. yes, his name is actually freddy.

i made the mistake one day of inviting a single kid to draw a picture for me, and now all the kids want to draw pictures for me...all the time. but, i don't mind when this guy, jose, comes over because he's super cool.

teaching in the schools

Village schoolyard, 7:30 am. Everday the kids at the pirmary school line up, face the flag, and sing the national anthem. I could care less about the national anthem, but the sight of these guys getting ready for school, and excited to be at school, gets me kind of emotional. My firend Jose is on of two hoisters of the flag (he is wearing red and navy).

Friends going home from school for their lunch break. I was leaving the middle school in Ihosy, where I had just finished teaching an AIDS class, when I saw these girls walking arm in arm. I just like the picture...

With some of my middle school students after a class. These guys are in the 3eme ("troisieme") class in the Ihosy middle school, which means they are in their final year there before graduating on to high school. I took two pictures, one with me and one with Christine, who had been helping me out that day. For some reason all the girls chose to be in the picture with me, and all the boys wanted to be photographed with Christine...

Brushing teeth with the 7eme class. Thanks to a donation of toothbrushes and toothpaste from a class of American students at Titusville Senior High in Western Pennsylvania (thanks y'all), I was able to talk about dental hygiene in one of my classes and then actually give the kids toothbrshes to practice with and to keep before sending them home.

Myself and another of the middle school classes I taught all spring semester of 2004. These guys are in the 4eme class, which means they are one year behind the a weird French educational system where the numbers go down intsead of up the older you get and the further you go in school. They had to make it more complicated, didn't they?

My friend Todzo demonstrates "proper" toothbrushing to his classmates. You know, when I asked for volunteers to come up and demonstrate this stuff, I realized that I don't really know what "proper" toothbrushing is myself. I couldn't remember whether you are supposed to go in a circular motion or from side to I kind of left it up to the kids.

Mr. Bonaventure and I standing in front of the classroom. This guy is one of the teachers I work with at the Ihosy middle school. I co-taught classes with him about reproductive health, AIDS, teen pregnancy, etc; last semester. He was alawys trying to impress me with his knowledge of English slang and his ability to sing American pop music. Great guy.

Christine visited my village a few times while we were still both in-country together...and I always tried to get her to teach with me in the primary school. Here, I suggested we play a Malagasy game with the kids that they had taught me's like a cross between innocent-enough "Red Rover, Red Rover" and hard-core sumo wrestling. Basically, two teams face off against each other, sing a little bit, advance into each other's territory, and then elect one representative each to enter a wrestling match. Yeah, it's a kid's game...

One team of kids size up their competition, who have lined up opposite them (not pictured). Interesting how the boys grouped together to form one team and the girls formed the other team. Also interesting how the girls' team kicked ass in the wrestling matches, winning almost every time...but I guess it's not all that surprising when you consider that the girls are taller and stronger than the boys at their age.

So, here Mme. Delphine (the principal) and Christine are about to wrestle each other in that "children's game" that I talked about earlier. Notice how Mme. Delphine takes it really seriously and Christine is laughing at how funny it is to be wrestling an old lady...well, Chris won the match by pulling Mme. across the line in the sand marked by where their feet touch one another.

everyday scenes in madagascar

Looking off to the mountains from Rue Nationale 7. This is one of the spectaculr views along the route that I take to get from my village to Fianarantsoa. It's the most amazing stretch of road, I think, anywhere in Madagascar.

A view of Fianarantsoa, my provincial capital, from one of the city's hotel terraces. Fianar is sometimes a beautiful, old city situated in the mountains...but when it is raining and cold it can be not a fun place to hang out. Fortunately, there are at least 30 volunteers living in the Fianar region, so the city is a meeting place for all of us.

You wouldn't have had a truly Malagasy experience if a herd of "omby," or cattle, didn't leisurely cross the road in front of your taxi-brousse. These guys have no respect. No respect! Any given day, there are hundreds of them being driven to market along the Rue nationale 7, and they think they own the road.

Sunset on the road to Ankily. I take this road home to my village almost every day after teaching in the schools in nearby Ihosy. Most days, there is a strong headwind blowing down from the mountains in the direction of Ankily, making the trip to Ihosy a difficult four kilometers. But, coming back home is always nice with the wind at my back.

Fianar. I can't really identify any landmarks in this picture...except that I think there are a few churches in there somewhere. Sorry. But, it's a cool shot of the city at sunset, don't you think?

One of the many serpentine cobblestone streets winding through Tana's uppertown. This view is from the top floor of the Hotel Raphia in the capital city, which sits atop one of the highest points for miles in any direction. The entire city is built on and around hillsides, giving it a similar feel to Fianar.

I took this picture from inside a moving taxi, and it actually came out alright. This is of the main drag in Tana, l'avenue de l'Independence. It is almost always moving and shaking with street vendors, people in suit and tie off to goverment jobs, beggars, and tourists. At night, an impromptu open-air market for freshly grilled brochettes and roasted peanuts starts going strong.

Another view of the mountains and horizon from the Rue National 7, which I travel along every month or so, coming or going from my village. I keep telling myself that one day I will do some rock climbing on those cliff faces, or hike up to one of the summits and pitch a tent for the night...still waiting for it to happen.

planting trees with kids

It was such a hot day that these kids had the good idea to bring umbrellas to give themselves some shade. The logical thing would have been for me to borrow someone's umbrella too...since I am white and have much more sensitive skin than these Malagasy kids do. Did I use an umbrella? No. Did I get a painful sunburn on my neck? You bet.

Procession of schoolkids going off to plant eucalyptus trees on the outskirts of Ankily. I spent one Saturday morning planting young trees with a few of the older kids at the local primary school. The principal her assistant, Madame Delphine and Madame Victorienne, also came along and helped to supervise.

The kids were given two seedlings each and told to plant them. They got really excited about planting them until it came time to do the digging of holes...and then the girls went off and picked fruit and a few of the guys did the brute work.

"Does anyone know what this is?" Here the president of the farmer's association in Ankily talks to the kids about trees, the importance of planting them, and how to place them in the ground so that they will grow healthily.

Another shot of the kids on the way to the place where we planted the trees. They were making up songs the whole way there, with really obvious but endearing lyrics like "what are we doing? we're planting trees!" and "who is our teacher? his name is chad!"

Andreas breaks ground to make a home for his tree while his father looks on. I can't tell whether that is a smile of approval or one that says " be young again and to be incompetent at even the most basic thing." But I give Andreas credit for being a quick learner and an able tree-planter.

Here, assistant principal Madame Victorienne, shows the kids how it is done. She may be a mother and a grandmother, but girl gets down.

When our work was over, a few of the older girls decided to throw a dance party, or some kind of ceremony honoring nature...I can't tell which it was supposed to be. No seriously, they just had a great time singing the same refrain over and over, clapping in rythym, and watching who ever dared to enter the circle bust a move.

training of teachers in the "life skills" curriculum

Sometimes you need to do something fun to liven up a training. Like playing a game of "telephone" with all of the trainees. Here, one of the students whispers in the ear of the Director of the CEG, or middle school. He doesn't smile a whole lot, so I am glad I caught him in the act this time.

Crhsitine and I held a four-day training of teachers and a few selected students at the Ihosy middle school in what is called the "life skills" curriculum. Here, the particpants take notes on Day One.

Every now and then we encouraged the trainees to break up into small groups to discuss different skills and strategies associated with making healthy choices and leading a healthy lifestyle, which is essentially the purpose of the "life skills" curriculum as an instructional model. Here, a group of two students and two teachers brainstorm about the steps in making an informed decision.

Christine reviews a session plan with some help from Mr. Julien, one of the two Malagasy teachers who co-led our training. I was kind of the designated photographer for those four days...and I was constantly annoying Chris by getting candid shots of her while she was hard at work.

Our two Malagasy co-trainers front and center. These guys, Julien and Bonaventure, were indispensable and a big part of what made the training so successfu...whenever Christine or I had a hard time explaining a concept, they would come to the rescue. It helped that I had been working closely with them in the classroom for several months leading up to the training, so they were really knowledgable about "life skills" and the reasoning behind it.

Another small group in action at the training.

Yet another small group at the training. I thnk they were talking about relationship skills, and how best for someone in a relationship to negotiate having sex or not having sex with his/her partner. We gave them a bunch of lines that a guy, for example, could use to pressure his girlfriend into having sex with him, and they came up with rebuttals and/or counter-statements.

The teachers were excellent participants at the training; but we had the most fun hanging out with and listening to the kids who were invited to attend. They were really eager to contribute, and this guy in particular was always volunteering his opinion. I still see these kids walking around Ihosy, and it's always a good conversation when we talk.

I had to include a picture of me pretending to know what I am talking about...actually my language ability qnd ease improved vastly even in those four days because I was always having to get up there and speak. Here, I am leading the participants through the "bridge model," which is a pictoral exercise used to emphasize the importance of making healthy decisions that affect our future.

Christine and I with the youngest participant at the training, and the guy with the best personality and enthusiasm out of the bunch. He was so proud to get this certificate acknowledging his completion of the training...

A group shot taken of all of the participants and myself when it was all over. There were something like 35 participants in all, and hopefully they will all build on what we discussed together this coming school year, maybe even put some of this curriculum into practice in their classes and among their peers.

hanging with other volunteers

Myself, Beth and Cory having a good time at one of our favorite stomping grounds, the Hotel Relais-Bara in Ihosy. We all get together about once a month to tell stories and have some fun...basically, to take a break from life in our villages.

Little beer, big beer. Kristen and Beatrice are two Peace Corps friends of mine. We are all having drinks at the Hotel de France, a favorite hang out in Tana, where they actually serve up draft beer that tastes a hell of a lot better than the national brew, Three Horses Beer.

Adam and Ashita smile for the camera. Adam is sporting a "soul patch" in this's kind of hard to see but you can make out some facial hair just above his chin. We are not sure whether he actually thinks it is cool or whether he is making an ironic statement.

Neal and me go head-to-head with the biggest steins anywhere outside of a Munich beer garden. Yes, this picture was also taken at the famous, or infamous, Hotel de France. You can tell because of the bright flourescent lighting and faux-European bistro style decor.

Jonathan and I set a record for the largest amount of beef "brochettes" consumed in one sitting this evening. There is a little hotely, or restaurant, around the corner from our former transit house in Fianarantsoa that serves possibly the best brochettes in the country (the best if you don't count the "street" brochettes cooked up late at night on the main Avenue de l'Independence in Tana).

Paul and Anne are a lot of fun, individually or together. They are one of the several married couples in Peace Corps Madagascar. They live in the far south in a very isolated village, but I try to hang out with them at every chance I get because it's always a good time. I mean, look at this could you think anything else?

Adore, Jason, Christine, and I at a dance club, "Le Bus," in Tana. Adore is Jason's girlfriend, and Jason, is a former volunteer who couldn't get enough of lviing the expat life here in Madagascar, so he has stayed. Jason seems to be making some kind of snicker in this picture, which none of us remember him doing at the time the photograph was taken. Jason, what's the deal with the snicker?

Look, a touriste! Christine agreed to pose for me on a busy Tana street because I thought she looked very touristic with her back-pack on and her flip-flops that have stars on them...Chris and I spent an entire month together in Tana while training a group of health volunteers, and I think she wore the star flip-flops to get my attention.

When this story was posted in November 2004, this was on the front page of PCOL:

The Birth of the Peace Corps The Birth of the Peace Corps
UMBC's Shriver Center and the Maryland Returned Volunteers hosted Scott Stossel, biographer of Sargent Shriver, who spoke on the Birth of the Peace Corps. This is the second annual Peace Corps History series - last year's speaker was Peace Corps Director Jack Vaughn.

Vote "Yes" on NPCA's bylaw changes Vote "Yes" on NPCA's bylaw changes
Take our new poll. NPCA members begin voting this week on bylaw changes to streamline NPCA's Board of Directors. NPCA Chair Ken Hill, the President's Forum and other RPCVs endorse the changes. Mail in your ballot or vote online (after Dec 1), then see on how RPCVs are voting.

November 27, 2004: This Week's Top Stories November 27, 2004: This Week's Top Stories
RPCV reaches out after Soccer attack 27 Nov
Tony Hall serves cold rice to embassy guests 27 Nov
Hope calms injured volunteer's family 26 Nov
Journalist Russell Carollo plans book on Peace Corps 25 Nov
Moyers says next 4 years will be golden age for reporters 24 Nov
RPCV is new president of the Hawaii bar association 23 Nov
Mark Gearan confirmed by Senate for CNS Board 23 Nov
Chris Shays fits in the other Republican Party 22 Nov
DC job a possibility for McPherson 22 Nov
Sentence reduced for man who raped PCV in Vanuatu 21 Nov
Frist criticizes provision in Omnibus Spending Bill 21 Nov
Peace Corps to be funded at $320 million 19 Nov
more top stories...

Charges possible in 1976 PCV slaying Charges possible in 1976 PCV slaying
Congressman Norm Dicks has asked the U.S. attorney in Seattle to consider pursuing charges against Dennis Priven, the man accused of killing Peace Corps Volunteer Deborah Gardner on the South Pacific island of Tonga 28 years ago. Background on this story here and here.
Your vote makes a difference Your vote makes a difference
Make a difference on November 2 - Vote. Then take our RPCV exit poll. See how RPCV's are voting and take a look at the RPCV voter demographic. Finally leave a message on why you voted for John Kerry or for George Bush. Previous poll results here.
Kerry reaches out to Returned Volunteers Kerry reaches out to Returned Volunteers
The Kerry campaign wants the RPCV vote. Read our interview with Dave Magnani, Massachusetts State Senator and Founder of "RPCVs for Kerry," and his answers to our questions about Kerry's plan to triple the size of the Peace Corps, should the next PC Director be an RPCV, and Safety and Security issues. Then read the "RPCVs for Kerry" statement of support and statements by Dr. Robert Pastor, Ambassador Parker Borg, and Paul Oostburg Sanz made at the "RPCVs for Kerry" Press Conference.

RPCV Carl Pope says the key to winning this election is not swaying undecided voters, but persuading those already willing to vote for your candidate to actually go to the polls.

Take our poll and tell us what you are doing to support your candidate.

Finally read our wrap-up of the eight RPCVs in Senate and House races around the country and where the candidates are in their races.
Director Gaddi Vasquez:  The PCOL Interview Director Gaddi Vasquez: The PCOL Interview
PCOL sits down for an extended interview with Peace Corps Director Gaddi Vasquez. Read the entire interview from start to finish and we promise you will learn something about the Peace Corps you didn't know before.

Plus the debate continues over Safety and Security.

Read the stories and leave your comments.

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Story Source: Personal Web Site

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Madagascar; PCVs in the Field - Madagascar



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