Archive for March, 2013

So reading the Home Office website about the current status of travel in Madagascar, they state:

Still current at: 19 March 2013
Updated: 21 February 2013

Avoid all but essential travel – Avoid all travel to part(s) of country

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with an amendment to the Travel Summary (cyclone season). The overall level of the advice has not changed. The FCO advise against all but essential travel to Andohahela National Park and against all travel on road RN13 between Ambovombe and Ihosy.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all but essential travel to Andohahela National Park and against all travel on road RN13 between Ambovombe and Ihosy. Take great care and follow local advice if you are travelling in the south east of the country.

There has been continued political instability in Madagascar since January 2009. The situation in the centre of Antananarivo is potentially volatile.

There is widespread crime in Madagascar. Take particular care on beaches where there have been attacks and robberies.

WELL from my experience last night I can add to the warning list:

Beware of sporadic shoot outs between gangs of criminals and the police in and around the orphanage… bullets are harmful to your health… keep you head down

Yes there was a public shoot out between ‘bad boys’ and the police after they were trying to steal something or other.

No animals or I was not hurt in the reporting of this event.


Happiness can be found in the mundane reality and savagery of the ups and downs of day-to-day living.

What others mistakenly may overlook, underestimate or just joke about can reveal more about personal faith and fortitude then many will comprehend in their comfortable lives

An example of this is a simple man, in a simple home with a 100 chickens.

tall short

A hard working elderly man who has built a three room, single story shed/house, who is married, children and has innumerous grand children to his name. He believes in God and is thankful for what he has – not much in western terms but much more than some of his neighbours.

Situations often can arise that tests your faith and finances equally, for him it was his wife getting sick. Medication in Madagascar costs a great deal and is often beyond the reach of most Malagasy. If you get sick you suffer and rest, time hopefully lending a healing hand. Watching loved ones suffer must be intolerable and push my understanding of humanity and resolve to the limit.

Choosing a course of action for one member of your family can have huge implications for the rest of the family, everyday decisions and welfare for your loved ones.

Strangely though often things work out better than before when the proverbial dust settles…

The gentleman’s wife gets ill, rather than watch his wife suffer he pays for her treatment from the little wealth he has to his name. She recovers fully and all is well…. Not quite! In order to pay for his wife’s treatment he sells his ‘business’ – which is all the chickens he is rearing – to cover medical costs. The problem being that once the chickens have been sold, they do not repopulate, his income source has ‘flown the coop.’ Since he does not have any capital to restock, and getting credit is near impossible for such a small scale project, he then has to turn his hand to selling newspapers to passing folk. This is a huge step down and struggle to keep up with the meager financial needs of his family.

Well then there is a break through, while selling newspaper he strikes up a conversation with an ex pat who is working in the area in the developing fashion industry. He is affected by the plight and asks him to write down a proposal of how he could help, not expecting the gentleman to bother. However when they have a chance encounter again the gentleman is clutching (apologies for chicken reference) a piece of paper, rather messy and illegible in places, but nonetheless a business plan.

The ex pat is impressed at the man’s character and touched by his genuine need, a deal is struck to loan the required finance for 100 chickens (50 quid odd) which will see him up and running again. The gentleman skeptical of the generosity of the ex pat takes the promise of money with a pinch of salt and a HUGE feeling of excitement at the CHANCE he and his family could make up the lost ground prior to his wife’s illness.

The promised money arrives, the baby chickens are purchased and the family is overjoyed and invites the ex pat, his wife and friends over for a coffee.

Such a small gesture has changed the man’s life… his faith restored, his resolve strengthened and his future bright. It was a pleasure to meet 100 chicken man, I learnt a great deal from him, a lesson many (including myself) may of missed if I hadn’t had the time to meet him.

This is where I will be based for the next 3 months…