Today we went along a river to EPP in Anantonambiliany. The village has a very isolated location and it took us almost 3 hours to get there by boat. At the end we had to walk barefoot through flooded rice fields.
The whole village had gathered and gave us a warm welcoming with songs and dances. Since the village is so isolated they rarely get any visits. So they had arranged a party to celebrate that we came and visited them. I feel touched, happy and overwhelmed of the effort the people in the village made due to our visit.
The school that UNICEF has built in Anantonambilany has just been finished. To build a school in a village so far away from the city is a challenge. At first all material had to be transported with a bigger boat to a storage place where the river divides into two different rivers. After that the river becomes shallow and the only way to transport the material is to take it on a pirogue. A pirogue is a handmade boat made out of wood that the people in the villages use to transport people and materials along the river. The last path the material has to be carried up to the village. It took 6 months to build the school in Anantonambilany. Normally it takes about 3 months.
The school has about 250 students and 6 teachers. School starts at 7.30 in the morning and ends at 13.00. The need for schoolbooks is big. Some books being used are 10 years old and there are not enough books for all the children. The teachers in the school are very committed and some of them live 1-1.5 hours by boat away along the river. When they attend trainings during the holidays, they first have to walk 5 hours and then take the taxi boat to the city.
The visit ended with a common celebration dinner that the village had arranged together. The team from IKEA and UNICEF gathered together with the adults in the village in the school which had been transformed into a dining room. During the meal the women of the village entertained us with wonderful singing and dancing.
To me this was a day with wonderful meetings with children and adults, and I´m grateful and overwhelmed that I got to share this day with the people in Anantonambilany.