Happiness and sadness in Madagascar

After a full and fruitful first day visit, we started another meaningful day with a nice greeting of songs from the birds and the waves.

Getting a big, warm welcome from the people in the village, and the parents of the community, we began our schedule at a school. There are two main single-level schools, one of which UNICEF constructed five years ago. With cement and stone walls, and a steel roof, the classroom is firmer and more solid than traditional classrooms which are built of wood. So no matter how bad the weather is students can still have their classes in a safe and undisturbed environment.

There is no electricity. The classroom is designed with big windows where natural sunlight can come in to brighten up the room. The big windows look simple but they play a key role in providing a more suitable learning environment for the students in Madagascar.

A concrete classroom constructed by UNICEF, which is also a safe shelter for the community. By Iris Chow
A concrete classroom constructed by UNICEF, which is also a safe shelter for the community. By Iris Chow
With large windows, the classroom fills with sunlight. By Iris Chow
With large windows, the classroom fills with sunlight. By Iris Chow

Students here like playing soccer. We were lucky to be invited to play a soccer game with the students during their break time – the Malagasy team vs the international team. We didn’t have a common language. We didn’t have soccer boots. We didn’t have a smooth pitch. But football became the common language between students and us. We kept shouting, running and laughing under the big hot sun. In order to get closer with the local team Long Long, my Hong Kong teammate, even took off his shoes and played barefoot, exactly like the Malagasy team. After playing for 20 minutes, Long Long and I were tired and sweaty but most of the students were still running very fast.

The game ended in a 1:1 draw and we had so much fun. The students are energetic and strong. They have to walk for couple of kilometres to get to school every day. This exercise makes them much stronger than kids of the same age in Hong Kong, even stronger than me.

Nice soccer match with Malagasy children’s team! By Janet Lai
Nice soccer match with Malagasy children’s team! By Janet Lai

Today we also had a chance to visit a family. The house is two kilometres away from the school area, which means that the children have to walk four kilometres every day, getting to and from school.

There were five kids in the family. The oldest is 11 years old and the youngest is three. In Hong Kong, primary school students would usually watch TV or have some extra-curricular activities after school. But it’s really unbelievable what the 11-year-old girl did after school. When we reached their home, the girl was making a bamboo wall with her 10-year-old brother, which they can sell for an income. Witnessing their situation makes me feel we need more funds and support to help them.

The children help the family earn extra income. By Iris Chow
The children help the family earn extra income. By Iris Chow
Can you imagine what they are building? It’s a WALL of a house that they lived in. By Iris Chow
Can you imagine what they are building? It’s a WALL of a house that they lived in. By Iris Chow

 

English
    Patrick Lau