Personal Stories

The work we do at Feedback Madagascar affects the lives of many in very different ways. Here you can read the stories of a few of these people. We shall continue to add more incites so please check back with us for up dates and new 'Personal Stories'.

delaryName: Marie Dety
Age: Twenty something!
Occupation: housewife/mother/works in fields
Religion: none
Marital status: Married
Number of children: 3
Number of people dependant on her: 3, 4 including my husband!
Number of people in their household: 8
Address: Tsararno
Distance from the nearest road: 20 km
Type of support received: I live in the village of Tsararno with my husband and three children a boy of 10, and 2 daughters aged 7 & 2. I moved to the village, where my husband, a farmer, was born, after we were married. Our village’s name means “Good Water” and it is situated near a river but unfortunately we don’t have access to particularly clean or good water. Our elder children attend the local school which was built with help from NT/FBM. It is more than just a school as the building also incorporates a rain catchment system to help provide us with good water the name our village promises but until recently used to lack!

All my children were delivered here in the village by one of NT/FBM’s traditional birth attendant (TBA), who is also MY MOTHER! She did all her training with NT/FBM. Part of her role as a TBA is to encourage women to attend pre natal appointments for health screening and identification of pregnancy complications. This was extremely helpful to me to have someone to encourage and guide me through what can be a difficult time. I had 4 pre natal visits at the local health centre – about 2 hours walk away – where I also had the opportunity to discuss my options regarding family planning. Obviously we live too far away for me to receive any medical care when having my babies as it would be impossible to walk when so huge and pregnant and in labour ready to give birth. Ha Ha Ha what a funny thought! The help provided by my mum, the TBA, is invaluable and ensures the safe delivery of not only my children but also makes sure that I survive myself. Giving birth is now a much safer thing to do in my village. I think that ‘3 children is enough’ and feel my family is complete so I now use a reliable form of contraception that I only heard about because of the TBA!

Impact: The training given to my mum highlighted the importance of pre natal care and family planning which she passed on to me, her daughter, and many other pregnant women in the village. Without this help we really be at a loss for care and information as we live in a very isolated village that is otherwise too remote for medical assistance. The school facilities are now adequate for the number of students and also helps provide us with clean water.

 

delaryName: Albert DELARY
Age: 45 (born in 1964)
Occupation: Farmer.
Role / responsibilities: President of the forest management association ‘Alampo’.
Religion: He doesn’t pray; he believes in the ancestors and “believes in what is right”.
Marital status: Married
Number of children: 8
Number of people dependant on him: 6 of his children
Number of people in their household: 8
Address: Marohita, Ambatofotsy commune, Ikongo district, Vatovavy Fitovinany region.
Distance from the nearest road: 15km from Ambatofotsy (road Ifanadiana – Ikongo)
History of his collaboration with NT/FBM:I have collaborated with NT for 3 years now; starting off as a member of the commune development committee’s environment commission I helped set objectives for the ‘Champion Community’ approach, and contributed to achieving those objectives. My forest management association applied for a small grant from NT to carry out small-scale fish farming in order to contribute to forest conservation. We are now using a second small grant to benefit the forest conservation / reforestation projects. I was also trained in survey techniques and herbarium collection for FBM’s yam work with Kew Gardens, and more recently in yam cultivation techniques.
Type of support received: As well as financial support for our association’s activities, I have benefitted from awareness-raising, advice when solving problems that the forest management association have encountered, and I have benefitted from various trainings.
Impact: Other than the visible impacts (fish ponds, trees planted and yam cultivation demonstration plots), I notice various other impacts on a more personal level. I have become more serious in my dealings and now follow agricultural and environmental procedures more closely; I know how to deal with ‘enemies’ who try to pursue me over the new forest conservation guidelines that I enforce; I now send offending people to the local authorities, with whom my collaboration has vastly improved, as I am not afraid of repercussions in the community. There has been a large increase in the number of members in our forest management association. In the future I plan to protect and look after all our hardwork; the trees that we have planted, the fish in our fishponds and the yams in their fields so as to increase production in the future. The forest is important to our community and more and more people are now understanding this, we are realising new ways to help protect it and live alongside it.

 

baomorisoaName: BAOMARISOA
Age: 43
Occupation: Farmer (rice, cassava, vegetables)
Religion: Neopostole (“néopostolique”)
Marital status: Single (somebody ‘stole’ my husband from me)
Number of children: 5
Number of people dependant on her: 4
Number of people in her household: 5
Address: Androrangavola, Ambolomadinika commune, Ikongo district, Vatovavy Fitovinany region.
Distance from the nearest road: On the ‘road’ from Ikongo to Ifanirea (newly repaired), but 23km from Ikongo.
History of her collaboration with NT/FBM: I have collaborated with NT/FBM for a long time – I help my commune with advice on family planning, AIDS prevention education, tuberculosis and different disease prevention. I go to every meeting that is held in my commune, particularly health education sessions.
Type of support received: I was a participant on the adult literacy programme, from start to finish (including the final exam which I passed). I have personally been tested for HIV (and was negative).
Impact: I had never been to school when I was a child as I was brought up in Ambatolampy, a village too far from a school. I am now able to read and write; I understand posters, information leaflets and banners, which helps me in my role as advocate of the health education programs in my commune. I am also able to count and sign my name. I recently became a member of the women’s association in Ambolomadinika, where I can meet women from different villages & exchange ideas, and make new friendships. I have enjoyed the new opportunities and I feel empowered by my learning and new understanding . I no longer feel embarrassed by my lack of knowledge and can even understand what my children are learning at school.

 

deniseName: Denise Renko Bazazaha
Age: 37
Occupation: Teacher’s assistant in the government primary school in Tsianivoha
Role / responsibilities: Community-based family planning provider, health educator, ex-adult literacy teacher.
Religion: Protestant (FLM)
Marital status: Married
Number of children: 3
Number of people dependant on her: 4
Number of people in their household: 4
Address: Tsianivoha, Ambolomadinika commune, Ikongo district, Vatovavy Fitovinany region.
Distance from the nearest road: 35km from Ikongo
History of her collaboration with NT/FBM: I have worked with NT/FBM since 2003; I have been trained as a volunteer health educator and family planning provider, as well as tuberculosis educator and adult literacy teacher.
Type of support received: Training on health & other trainings, provision of equipment and seeds.
Impact: My knowledge has increased greatly on all the issues they have trained me on; both myself and my community have become healthier thanks to the health programs. Women are now much better informed about family planning options and we no longer have so many women who are just pregnant all the time! My local community is now much better informed on all issues mainly thanks to the literacy program. We have come together and really started to work together as a team to improve our village. We all take part in the communal work, people will now come into the village from their homes out near the fields to be able to take part in the community work. My status in the village has improved; I am now much better respected; in fact some people will only carry out community initiative requests when asked by me!

 

francoiseName: Françoise Mampiveritsara
Age: 50
Occupation: Farmer (ex-teacher)
Role / responsibilities: Community-based family planning provider, health educator, ex-adult literacy teacher.
Religion: Catholic
Marital status: Single
Number of children: 1 daughter
Number of people dependant on her: 2
Number of people in her household: 4
Address: Tsarakianja-sud, Ambolomadinika commune, Ikongo district, Vatovavy Fitovinany region.
Distance from the nearest road: 15km from Ikongo
History of her collaboration with NT/FBM: I have worked with NT/FBM since 2003; I have been trained as a volunteer health educator and family planning provider, as well as tuberculosis educator and adult literacy teacher.
Type of support received: Training, provision of equipment, continual support.
Impact: I have seen big changes in both myself and my village. Before there were many diseases in my village but now people are healthy. There is less childbirth. People who have seen the advantages of family planning now testify to others and this then benefits the community. We now have clean water provisions as well as a school thanks to NT/FBM, and the parents association are even currently building a new school. I stopped teaching in the Catholic Church after I was told I had to move to a school too far away from my community. I like working with NT a great deal, my work with them has helped my community in so many ways; and a real bonus is I even got to visit the Hilton hotel in 2005 when I went there for a training workshop, this would have been impossible for me otherwise!

delaryName: Sally Watts
Age: 49
Occupation: Nurse.
Normal Residence :England

History of his collaboration with NT/FBM: I first heard about Feedback Madagascar from ‘a friend of a friend’ and I contacted Sam (Cameron) in the Fianarantsoa office about the possibility of voluntary work; we liaised via email and, with the usual procrastinations of modern life, I arrived two years later!

As a nurse I was naturally drawn towards a health-orientated project so we discussed options and we decided that it would be useful to do an evaluation of NT/FBMs training of traditional birth attendants. A previous evaluation had been done in 2001 so it would be useful to do a new report particularly in light of new government guidelines which encourage women to give birth in health centres under medical supervision. Language was going to be the biggest challenge so I ‘hired’ an interpreter, Margot, who had worked on other projects with TN/FBM and knew some of the villages we would be visiting. I learnt a lot from her about Madagascar (this was my first visit) and a few words of Malagasy –it made travelling so much easier and more interesting.

I rented a room in Fianarantsoa for a month as a base and then we made two trips of 5 days each to visit the villages and do our interviews. In between trips I went into the FBM offices most days or worked at a cyber café to write up notes, etc.

The two districts we visited were Ikonga and Ambalavao, the latter area proved more challenging as it was the time of the rice harvest and access to the villages was on foot. Despite being fairly fit, walking on tiny paths between rice paddies in the searing heat was quite a feat. The villages are remote and there was no means of pre warning of our visits so we sometimes arrived to find that the TBA was staying in the fields during harvest time. That said, I loved our walks, watching the rice being harvested and arriving in villages to be greeted by the entire population.

As well as talking to the individual TBAs we visited health centres and spoke to midwives, doctors and the medical directors of the districts. I have travelled to many developing countries and seen the inadequate health facilities available, the basics which at home we take for granted – new gloves for every patient – here the gloves are washed and hung up on makeshift washing lines-no bulging cupboards and easy access medication. The health centres usually had one trained medical person, either a nurse or doctor who provided for all the local villages and worked 7 days a week 24 hours a day.

We interviewed 29 TBAs, rarely the interviews were one to one, privacy is unheard of so they were held in groups - once crammed into a tiny hut with babies crying, children playing, another in the village shop with the whole village in attendance, presided over by the mayor. Everywhere we went we were welcomed and the TBAs talked openly about their work. Withhout exception they found the training helpful and proudly produced their certificates, of course there were some recurring issues, mainly to do with lack of equipment so these were duly noted and hopefully can be addressed

After about 3 weeks I had enough data to compile a report and make some recommendations. The next step is to use the data to support applications for funding more training – many of the TBAs are elderly so there is a need to train younger villagers. What the report did conclude was that despite government initiatives which aim to encourage more women to deliver in health centres there is undoubtedly still a role for the TBA in remote villages. I sampled first hand the difficulties of travelling/walking during the rainy season and many villages are several kilometres from the nearest medical facility – and I wasn’t 9 months pregnant! By providing training and support for the TBAs it gives women who are unable to reach medical facilities a better chance of a safe delivery.

Like most voluntary work I gained as much from the experience as NT/FBM. I saw a part of Madagascar which I would never have seen as a tourist and met – and with Margot’s help communicated with the Malagasy people, saw how they lived, enjoyed their food and hospitality; in return they seemed to enjoy the opportunity to talk about their work and lives and they loved the inevitable photoshoot! I intend to keep in touch with NT/FBM and do whatever I can, from the UK, to find funding for this worthwhile project.