I live in a comfortable world with unlimited access to clean water, fresh air, nutritious food, medical care and education. It has always been like this. For as long as I can remember, I have never lacked the resources to meet any of these basic needs. It is difficult for me to imagine a world that lacks any of the privileges mentioned above. Every day, I do not even think about it, it is obvious that there will be food in the store and clean water in the tap. It is obvious that children go to school. However not everywhere … Madagascar is a country where 80% of the population lives in great poverty and every fourth inhabitant of the island is illiterate. Nevertheless, all these are just words, until you see with your own eyes. When you are able to feel the joy of the child receiving the only hot meal he will have during the day, your perspective change. School in the Bush – Ankizy Gasy is a special chapter that tells a story about an amazing charity that helps the most sensitive and delicate – children.
Ankizy Gasy – Children of Madagascar is a foundation established by two wonderful Polish women, Kasia Białous and Patrycja Malik. The goal of the foundation is to offer Malagasy children a chance for a better future through education. Therefore, thanks to the activities carried out by the foundation, children from the poorest families in Madagascar, have a chance to go to school. Furthermore, kids receive educational materials and the most essential goods such as food. It is hard to imagine that many children do not have the privilege of eating even one hot meal during the day. However, this is the reality in a country where 80% of the population lives in great poverty.
Ankizy Gasy is actively working to change this, since 2011, the foundation has been organizing fundraising for the construction and renovation of schools. Together with the help of volunteers, they create places where children can safely learn and play. Personally, I am fascinated by this activity and I had a chance to see the effects of the work that the Ankizy Gasy foundation does. I had the honour of visiting a school in the bush, participating in lessons and even having a meal together with the kids and volunteers. It was a heart-touching, extremely important and awareness-raising experience. Therefore let’s start from the beginning …
We leave by car from Ambohitratrimo, where the foundation is located. The paved road ends at some point, so the car stays on the side and we have to walk. We are led by, one of the teachers at the school in the bush. The path to the Ambatomasina school runs through rice fields and local buildings. It is not without reason that I use the name school in the bush. I say that because as far as the eye can see, there are lush bushes and rice fields.
On the way, we pass the locals working in the field. As we are walking further I can see a great laundry washing taking place in the river nearby. It is interesting that people don’t hang laundry on the strings here, instead, they place it on the hot stones so that the scorching sun can dry them. We have to be careful not to enter the rice patches and only walk along the designated path. Finally, we arrive at the gate of the school in the bush. It’s break time. I see a lot of happy kids chasing the ball around the schoolyard.
Children are of different ages, dressed in the same blue uniforms. When the break is over, we are invited to individual classes to see how the lessons are going. After a short introduction, we sing songs together. If you ignore the scratched walls, the hardened clay floor and the fact that, despite the simple uniforms, some children run barefoot, this school is no different from those in the developed world.
Children are smiling, curious and open to learning about the world. Although the school in the bush and its surroundings seem very poor to me, for all the children attending this school, being there is a great honour. It is because education in Madagascar is still a privilege, not an obligation. The harsh reality is that every fourth inhabitant of the island is illiterate. Therefore, it is why it is so important to ensure the widest possible access to education. With that being said, every support of people who have something to share counts for the Ankizy Gasy Foundation.
During a visit to a school in the bush, I have the opportunity to take part in a shared meal, financed by the Ankizy Gasy Foundation. For the kids attending school, it is often the only hot meal of the day. About 105 lunches are served at school every day. All the children gather in the school square and politely line up and the teachers let each one into the room, where plates with meals are already prepared on the floor.
It is sad under what conditions such meals take place. At the same time, the heart grows at the thought that there are people who make such initiatives possible. Being there among the people who have nothing, I come to appreciate how much I have and how insignificant my material possessions are. In fact, what really is important is that children never have to feel hungry. That there will be a place where someone tells them about the world and shows them how to cope with life. This lunch I had in the school in the bush, which included rice, beans and a poached egg, was probably the best meal I have ever eaten.
If you want to contribute in any way to helping children in Madagascar, visit the Ankizy Gasy website or their fan page on Facebook. Perhaps you are thinking of becoming a volunteer? The foundation has a program for volunteers too. You can help in many ways, although spreading awareness is the first step towards something good, isn’t it? If you feel this is an important topic, please share this post with your friends and help spread awareness. For you, it is a small gesture and for someone, it can mean a lot …