Library and Computer Lab: In 2022, we built a library and computer lab at a school complex that serves children from villages where we work.
In 2020, GemsOfMadagascar.org built a new four-classroom school building to serve students from Ambalafeno and surrounding villages. The building replaced a small single classroom building that was destroyed by a cyclone in 2018. As part of our project, we also refurbished the other buildings in the school complex and built new toilets and a hand-washing station.
One small building was not refurbished because it wasn’t structurally sound for use. See photos provided. Recently, the school director asked if we could re-build that building and make it into a much-needed library and computer lab. We have been working with another NGO, GroundBreaker, that paid for the building and computers. And the department of education provided an educational local area network for the school. Re-building this building provided the school with enough space to offer both a computer lab and a library…two things that will give the children in this area a real advantage in the school system of Madagascar.
This school is now the most technologically advanced school in the district.
While a grant paid for the construction of the building and computers, we still need funds for library books. We have space for books in English, Malagasy and French, but our shelves are quite empty at the moment.
The Ankevohevo Children’s Choir: The Ankevohevo children’s choir, sponsored by GemsOfMadagascar.org, was off to a good start in 2020 with a new choir director, regularly scheduled performances, and a good income from tips. Unfortunately, since the borders closed in March 2020 due to Covid-19, there have been no tourists and thus, no tips to supplement the family incomes of the children. Despite the lack of tourists and no financial reward, the kids continue to have regular rehearsals to prepare for the day they can start giving performances again.
It became apparent we need to help support the choir children and their families during this pandemic. We regularly reward them with turkeys, pigs, chickens, ducks, school supplies and other things that will help their families thrive despite the hardships.
With these rewards, several kids have been able to breed their animals and learn about farming. The goal is to give them a better life than their parents had. And these animals help them accomplish that goal. See below for more information about the Ankevohevo Children’s Choir.
Toilets and Wash Basins in Ranomafana: We have already built one complex of toilets and wash basins (and a shower) in Ranomafana. We’re looking to build two more in other areas of the town. Ranomafana is a tourist town near a lemur habitat. Although, it’s a popular tourist destination, it needs some basic facilities to help the town thrive. The project is self-sustaining as there is a small fee to use the facilities. The commune has a full-time employee managing the area, keeping it clean and stocked. In exchange, she keeps most of the money that is paid for facilities. The hope is this project will help the people of Ranomafana adopt better health and hygiene practices, rather than washing their clothes and defecating in the nearby river. The facilities also give visitors a clean place to use the facilities.
Recent Projects 2020 to Present
Hunger Crisis Project: The south of Madagascar is experiencing an ongoing drought affecting over 1 million people. Because of the lack of water and poverty, people are literally starving to death. People have had to leave their homes to scavenge anything they can find for food. Malnourishment among children is climbing at alarming rates.
GemsOfMadagascar.org partnered with two other fabulous organizations, The Acronis Foundation and www.EnterTheEarth.com, to send over 11 metric tons of food to two neighboring villages in the South. The truck, driver and security were provided by the emergency relief branch of the Malagasy government. Our in-country representatives, Santatra and Benja, went along to ensure a smooth distribution to those most in need.
We sent nutrient-rich foods…meats and durable fruits, grains and vegetables to not only to provide food, but also help combat the ongoing issue of malnourishment they have.
Although this drought is far from the villages where we work, we wanted to benefit them as well. To do this, we bought as many crops as possible from them. The school director has also agreed to allow the children at the new school to help stuff bags with vegetables as a humanitarian project. This was a wonderful opportunity for the children to learn about those less fortunate in their own country.
The mission was successful yet challenging. There were several vehicle breakdowns and two bandit attacks, so we’re grateful our team made it home safely.
Rainwater collection and cleaning tanks: In 2021, we added rainwater collection and cleaning systems in the three villages where we installed a solar-powered clean water system in 2016. Each tank holds approximately 7,000 liters of water. The tanks collect and clean approximately 4,657 liters of rainwater per day from eleven roofs during the rainy season. This will provide approximately 12.5 supplemental liters of clean water per person per day during the 5-month rainy season. The rainwater collection system will complement the solar-powered system while it is working at sub-optimal levels due to overcast skies. We also added a rainwater collection and cleaning tank at the school as well.
A school in Ambalafeno and surrounding villages: the two-story school building includes four classrooms. It replaced part of the existing school that was destroyed by a cyclone. The building is also large enough to bring high school classes to this area. Currently the kids who attend high school walk about 10k to school on Monday and return home Saturday morning. Also, the current school is not adequate to serve all the children for full-day classes. So small kids attend school in the morning and bigger kids attend school in the afternoon. The new school building expands their serving capacity to 450 children, rather than the 250 could serve. This is keeping in mind future growth. This building was completed in August 2020. In addition to the new school building, we refreshed the old buildings and built new toilets, wash basins and a hand-washing station.
Children’s Choir Performance Pavilion: the Ankevohevo Children’s Choir has been performing a Song and Dance Spectacular that highlights all six regions of Madagascar with singing, dancing and some acrobatics to tourists since 2017. The routine is getting rave reviews among locals and tourists alike. The kids make good money from tips.
We have an ongoing need for boy’s uniforms, girls dresses, and marketing for the concerts etc. We recently built a performance pavilion in nearby tourist village, Ranomafana. This pavilion was built as part of a “Green Park” (Kianja Maitso) project in conjunction with Center ValBio, the local conservation organization lead by lemur specialist Patricia Wright, The Commune of Ranomafana and Madagascar National Parks. We’re excited to be part of this project. We renovated an old amphitheater to be used both as a performance pavilion for our Children’s Choir and for educational programs related to the green park.
In March 2020, the kids had their last performance before the borders were shut down. Now there are no tourists to see their performances, thus, no tips to supplement their incomes. We are raising money to help support the choir members and their families during the pandemic. We plan to buy them pigs, chickens, turkeys, school supplies and toher things to help support them. Help us support these fabulous kids and their families. Donate today!
2019 Relief for Fire Victims in Ifanadiana: In May 2019 Ifanadiana Madagascar was devastated by a fire. Over 50 structures were destroyed leaving 70+ households homeless. Over 150 students lost their books and school supplies. June 2, 2019 GemsOfMadagascar.org staff distributed clothing, winter jackets, toys and kitchen supplies to the people of Ifanadiana. The people were so grateful for the winter coats as the winter months were approaching and they didn’t have any. We were relieved to learn that all the people’s immediate needs had been met by all the NGOs working in the area. Now they are beginning the process of rebuilding their homes.
2019 Expectant Mother’s Waiting House in Ranomafana: March 2019 we inaugurated an Expectant Mother’s Waiting House in Ranomafana. GemsOfMadagascar.org was thrilled to be invited to participate in this project in conjunction with PIVOT, the local medical NGO, and the commune of Ranomafana.
This building provides a place where expectant mothers who live 5k-25k away can stay close to the hospital during late term pregnancy. Women in distant villages often wait until they are in labor to make the journey to the hospital. Sometimes babies are born alongside the road, which can lead to delivery complications resulting in the death of the mother and/or baby. This house provides shelter for four women to stay for up to two weeks. Expectant mothers are also given some food to cook and baby items. It is conveniently located next to the hospital, so mothers can go next door when labor begins.
Fara, the first woman who used the Expectant Mothers Waiting House. We visited her daily during her stay…sometimes giving her food to eat. She had her baby on March 18, 2019. To our surprise, she named her baby Michelle Adelene after Michelle from GemsOfMadagascar.org. What an honor and blessing.
2019 Toilets, Shower and Wash Basin Complex in Ranomafana: March 2019 we inaugurated the first of three planned toilets, shower and wash basin complexes in this area. These complexes will be for both locals and visitors to the area. These complexes help the local Malagasy people adopt better health and hygiene practices. They also give visitors clean public toilets to use. For a small fee, locals can wash their clothes with clean water and use the toilets rather than using the nearby river for both. Our full time attendant keeps the place clean and stocked for a percentage of the revenue.Ladies enjoy using the new wash basin. One woman said she was developing back problems from scrubbing clothes over rocks in the river. The wash basin relieves the stress on her back.
Ongoing Hygiene Training. No clean water project is complete without hygiene training. It’s one of my favorite days in the villages because we bring joy to the people by giving supplies and teaching them how to use them. This trip we literally had 4 suitcases packed with hygiene items donated from several amazing people on our recent trip in Fall 2017. Dina Andriamanalina always does such a fabulous job training the people…and he has fun doing it.
Ongoing Ankevohevo Children’s Choir
We have an ongoing project with Ankevohevo teaching the kids music, singing and performance. Ankevohevo is a rural village located not far from the tourist town, Ranomafana. The kids sound like choir of angels when they sing, so we wanted to teach them how to perform in the hopes they can provide some entertainment for visitors to the area and earn some money for the village. They are excited about the opportunity. Our Malagasy partner, Dina, is a professional musician and music teacher, so he is having a blast working with the kids. Their first public performance was March 2017. They have since put on many concerts. The kids are making good money and the adults are selling hand-crafted items outside the concerts for an added income stream.
2016 – 2018 Projects
2017 – 2018 Clean water for Ambalafeno, Ambalahambana and Ambohimaha. In July of 2016 we returned to Ambalafeno to troubleshoot the new clean water system. We’re happy to say their new clean water system is now working…we have a couple of finishing touches to add, but they have clean water for this Christmas 2017. The system is a combination hand-pump well for the lower houses and gravity-fed system for the upper homes. Solar power pulls the water up to a large holding tank, from there, the clean water is distributed to the three villages via gravity. Each village has a fountain/spigot, a wash basin and toilet…a nice ceramic squatty potty that is flushable and easier to keep clean. There is also one western-style flush toilet. The waste is cleaned and compostable in three years.
In 2018 we added pavilions over each wash basin so the women can wash clothes protected during the rainy season. The pavilions also offer a nice shady place to gather and sing during hot summer months.
In 2019 we replaced the battery and added another solar panel to give the people a better, more consistent flow of clean water.
2017 Toilets, Showers and Wash Basins in Ankevohevo: While the people had clean water flowing from a single spigot in the center of town, they didn’t have wash basins, showers or toilets. Keeping in mind our Children’s Choir project, we wanted to give the people in Ankevohevo a nice place to shower and wash their clothes. They were bathing and washing in the dirty river nearby. And also provide clean toilets for the visitors and guests.
2016 Clean Water For Mananjara: The clean water system for 8 villages and a school was completed in July 2016. It now feeds into 8 villages and a school to nearly 1,600 people. Here is our story:
2016 church/community building for Ankevohevo: The building was completed in September 2016. Here is our story about that: