A Video Introduction to the ZAZA Project

Find out who we are and what the ZAZA Project is all about ūüôā

Please forward this website to anyone who you think may be interested in getting involved or someone who you think will get a smile from reading this blog ūüôā

You can find out more about us and our lemur research at http://www.thekiwiandthefish.com

Email us at: zazaproject@yahoo.com

By ZAZA Project

Happy 2012 from ZAZA!!

Happy 2012 Everyone!

Alastair and I are in New Zealand now, after a very successful and inspirational field season in Maromizaha Forest, Madagascar.

I hope you are all healthy and happy wherever you are ūüôā

Since my last update we have had two more meetings with the 2011-2012¬†Zaza¬†Scholars and their parents/guardians. ¬†These kids are SO keen to learn! ¬†They spend 20 minutes observing every detail of a page in an illustrated animal encyclopedia! ¬†They are also impressive artists and drew many colourful pictures for you. ¬†We also helped them write a short letter to each sponsor in English. ¬†I took photos of their letters, the kids themselves and their art to show you. ¬†If you sponsored a student for the 2011-2012 season, I will send you their specific letters/photos in a separate email. ¬†Below, there is a group photo of the 10 Scholars from this year and a photo of the Grade 5 students who will be taking their final exams in June, to see if they are admitted to highschool for the 2012-2013 school year. ¬†They seem a super bright bunch and I ended up donating all of my animal encyclopedias to their class along with pencil crayons, markers and a few other resources. ¬†We hope to be able to sponsor another group of students from this class towards their highschool education and so far we have money for at least three, 2012-2013¬†Zaza¬†Scholars :):):) ¬†Our goal is to be back in Madagascar late June, 2012 to resume our study of infant development in lemurs and to present scholarships for the next round of¬†Zaza¬†Scholars. ¬†We will also be supporting the first 10 through their second year (this is already covered through your generous donations), assuming they keep up their grades and continue to take part in our monthly meetings in Anevoka ūüôā ¬†I ended up purchasing most of the actual school supplies for them (using their scholarship money) because you can’t actually get these things anywhere near the village, and they received cash for things like school fees, uniforms, room & board etc. ¬†It still blows my mind that $100 allows a kid to go to highschool for a year (room & board and all!!!)

Overall, we are absolutely overjoyed at the support and encouragement we have received from people all over the world towards this project. ¬†It makes us feel SO good to be able to be the conduit channels of goodness from all over the world into a tiny, very poor village bordering a rainforest in Madagascar. ¬†I absolutely glow head to toe when I shake hands with a child who is getting to go to highschool thanks to our friends and family. ¬†I think I glow because this project makes me realize that ” with all it’s sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world”. ¬†At our last meeting, the kids brought us bananas and dried beans as gifts of appreciation. ¬†The elders of the village made us traditional hats.

Smiles and heartfelt thanks to you from all of us,

Best wishes for 2012!

Jody ūüôā

By ZAZA Project

November Update from ZAZA :)

Dear Friends,

Greetings from Madagascar ūüôā 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 ūüôā

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 ūüôā


By ZAZA Project

Happy Thanksgiving from ZAZA!!!

Dear Friends

Jody and I are so very impressed with the positive response to¬†Zaza……a HUGE¬†¬†thank you to everyone for your help and ideas. We now have enough money to provide scholarships to ten children for their first year of high school!!!!

Anyone who has still to send money for this first year, please send it along to me. I have ‚Äúbank-rolled‚ÄĚ those whom still have to mail in their contribution (but who have told me they will).

Tomorrow Jody heads back to Madagascar to continue her work with the lemurs. She will meet with the village leaders and the primary school teachers to determine which children will be offered the scholarships.¬†¬†To those of you who have committed to funding a scholarship, please understand that Jody has very limited access to internet (it is the rainforest!) so it will take time to make the first report.¬†¬†However, we will aim to provide you with the information on the students selected before December ūüôā

From this point we have decided to stop at ten children for the 2011/2012 school year. Any extra funds that come in, between now and Jody’s next trip to Madagascar will be banked in anticipation of the next school year.  Jody hopes to return in July 2012, when she will be able to assess how the program has progressed. At that time we will assess scholarship needs for the second year, and communicate this with you.

We cannot express how happy we are at your generosity. All the funds received will go directly to the children‚Äôs education, a priceless gift.¬†¬†We are so very thankful to have people like you in our worlds ūüôā

Happy Thanksgiving!

Jill and Jody

By ZAZA Project

Introducing Baby ZAZA!!!

Dear Friends,

I have never done this sort of thing before, but I have an idea that I’d like to share with you.¬†¬†As you know I have started a research project in the Eastern rainforest of Madagascar examining the development of young lemurs from birth until weaning.¬†¬†The research is going really, really well, we learn SO much, every single day.¬†¬†But, as you know, babies grow up remarkably fast.¬†¬†I’m hoping to make this a long-term project and so for starters, I will be back in the rainforest with the lemurs in less than 2 weeks ūüôā

So what is this letter about?¬†¬†Well, since I started working in this forest with these people, I have developed a burning sense of responsibility for the people who work for me.¬†¬†Madagascar is one of the 10 poorest countries in the world.¬†¬†The people who work with me, and who are so critically important to my research, make between $2 and $5 a day.¬†¬†“So pay them more Jody”, that’s what you must be thinking, that’s what I thought too.¬†¬†So I hire more people, give them more work, feed them 3 meals a day, I’ve bought them good rubber boots to work in and I buy them warm clothes for their kids.¬†¬†The village is high in the mountains where it rains a lot, and it is quite cold.¬†¬†Most kids do not have shoes or warm clothes.¬†¬†Personally, I find it so overwhelming and sad, sometimes I feel like I should take the money I spend on flights to get to Madagascar and just give it to these people instead!¬†¬†But that’s not sustainable.¬†¬†By developing a lemur research project, there is much more potential for long term jobs and income for these people…so I need to make my research funds last.

Here’s where you can help.¬†¬†Public school in Madagascar costs money.¬†¬†Parents have to pay per month.¬†¬†In Anevoka (the village near my research site) even if kids do well in primary school and pass their final exams with flying colours, they will most likely not continue schooling.¬†¬†That means that at 10 years old, most kids are finished with school.¬†¬†The closest secondary school is in a village only 15 minutes away by car….but there are no cars/buses available to these kids so it is a 2 1/2 hour walk.¬†¬†And of course there are the fees.¬†¬†I’ve been thinking about this so much, and here is what I’ve worked out.

* The secondary school year starts in October.

* School fees are $15 a month ($150 for a school year)

* To pay for room and board as well is $5 a month ($50 for a school year)

The daughter of my guide is named Antoinette.¬†¬†She is 10 years old, a talented artist, and is superbly bright.¬†¬†I think she would make a fantastic biologist one day, and I’d really love to see these kids grow up to work in their forests as researchers.¬†¬†When I explained all of this to my Mom, she said she would love to pay for Antoinette’s secondary school education.¬†¬†And so we got to thinking….and¬†ZAZA¬†was born (ZAZA¬†means child in Malagasy).¬†¬†This is a tiny project, no administration fees.¬†¬†If you would like to take part, in any way, please contact my Mom or myself through this blog or by email. ¬†My Mom will wire any money to me in Madagascar, and I will give parents cash for their child’s secondary education.¬†¬†I will gift it to them as a scholarship, and I will let¬†you¬†know exactly who got your money, and how it is being spent.¬†¬†I know I can’t solve all of the challenges facing these kids, but I know this will help.¬†¬†The number of scholarships will depend on the amount of money raised.¬†¬†Thanks so much for reading this,¬†Misaotra beseka!

Jody ūüôā

By ZAZA Project