Greetings from Madagascar 🙂 I hope that you are all doing well! We have had a spectacular month in the jungle and have posted some new videos our website if you are interested (http://www.thekiwiandthefish.com). I am delighted to tell you that the ZAZA Project has been an absolute and total hit in the village. The people are very very VERY thank-full to all of you, children and parents. Here are some updates:
1. The children’s names are Tiana, Cristine, Marie, Antoinette, Victorine, William, Herve, Manasse, Justin and Emile. They are the students who received the highest grades on the final exams in Year 5 (qualifying them for secondary school and Year 6).
2. It turns out that I was slightly mistaken when I quoted the cost of a year of secondary school. Once I actually saw the school supply list, including things like uniforms, pens, pencils, notebooks, school tuition, etc (I can send you the itemized list if you are interested), it came to approximately 50$ Canadian. On top of that, because the secondary school is not in Anevoka (where the families live) they need to pay 5$ Cdn per month for room/board (so for ten months it costs 50$ Cdn). Sooooooo instead of a school year costing 200$ as I had previously thought, it costs 100$. Of course this was very humbling again (it was a translation mix-up), and I thought of whether we should support twice as many students OR guarantee support to the top ten students for 2 years of secondary school. I decided to do the second option, because I wanted to give people as much assurance as possible (because now they don’t have to worry about these fees for two years). I also let the parents know that the scholarships will be available to their children for their entire 4 years of secondary school so long as they continue to do well in the studies and on their exams.
3. On October 22 I had a meeting at the school in Anevoka (the primary school) and was able to meet all of the parents and 6 of the children. The other 4 are attending secondary school in places farther than the others and the parents could not afford to bring them back for the weekend. I made a little speech and my Malagasy University Student translated into Malagasy as I told them all about these people all over the world who wanted to support their studies. Then I presented each student with a certificate, a blank notebook, a packet of pencils and the first installment of their scholarship (approximately 30$). After the formal bit, we brought out an animal encyclopedia and the kids (and parents) were absolutely glued to it. It was a very happy time, many many smiles. You helped make some very poor, but extremely hard working people, very VERY happy. I have attached photos of the group to this email 🙂
3. I set the next meeting for November 19 and I tried to have the parents understand that it was important for me to meet all of the students at that meeting. At that meeting I will present the balance of the first year scholarships and we are going to do some drawing of animals from the encyclopedias.
4. If you have committed to sponsoring the year for a particular student, I will send you their specific info in another email. And of course, I will have more happiness to report next time I am out of the forest (mid-December).
Many smiles from Madagascar 🙂