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Country of the Week: Madagascar
February 22, 2017

Would you believe Madagascar used to be part of India?

The two landmasses were conjoined until about 100 million years ago, when India split off and slowly drifted north to its current position. That means the plants and animals on Madagascar, the fourth-largest island in the world, have evolved in isolation for millions of years. These days, over 90% of the island’s wildlife is found nowhere else on Earth!

Group of people standing in front of doorway
Group of people standing in front of doorway

The Republic of Madagascar is home to more than just unique species of plants and animals. It is also home to unique, successful, and inspiring young people just like you! That’s why we’ve named Madagascar the YALI Network #CountryoftheWeek.

Read on to learn more about the impact Malagasy members have been having in their communities!

Our first featured member, Lova Rakotoarisoa, is a Mandela Washington Fellowship alumna from Toamasina. She is “passionate about local and global initiatives aimed at transforming social issues and promoting human rights, democracy, and good governance.”

Lova explains, “My experience with the YALI Network and the Mandela Washington Fellowship program exposed me to a practical understanding of good governance and its link to sustainable development. Throughout various YALI Network Online Courses and the many enriching exchanges during the MWF program in the United States, I learned effective ways to promote good governance within public administration processes.”

Lova believes ineffective governance is the root of many of Madagascar’s problems. To address the issue, she organizes trainings targeting public officials across the island, such as mayors and council members. These emphasize the importance of good governance to sustainable development and cover topics like accountability, transparency, and responsiveness. Participants then transform their ideas into action plans.

“The project is going well so far,” Lova says. “By the end of 2017, I hope to secure enough resources to organize a regional monitoring and evaluation workshop and best practices open day with representatives from those municipalities.”

Our next featured member, Vony Randrianonenana, has been part of the YALI Network since 2014 and was selected for a YALI Regional Leadership Center online program on civic leadership last year.

In December, Vony decided to apply her civic leadership skills to create her own nonprofit association, “Clair de Lune Madagascar,” or “Moonlight of Madagascar.” “Our mission,” she says, “is to provide assistance to the most vulnerable families… to bring positive change to our community.”

The organization’s first project was an event called “Christmas Heart,” which included charitable donations to 25 women and 200 children in rural areas. “We got support from companies, individuals, organizations, and corporations,” Vony says.

Teacher kneeling between two rows of desks in classroom
Teacher kneeling between two rows of desks in classroom

“Our second project was to support an orphanage in Antananarivo, to start [their year off] full of joy and promises,” she says. Their next project will “offer a range of activities, training programs, and assistance to women most in need.” Trainings will include basic vocational and literacy skills; Vony hopes to help these women “be financially independent, to create lasting employment, to feed their families, and especially to encourage them to send their children to school.”

Our last featured Malagasy member this week, Irina Ramalanjaona, also comes from Antananarivo. Like Vony, she participated in a YALI Regional Leadership Center program last summer.

After the program, as her two-year term volunteering at Women in Motorsports Madagascar was coming to an end, Irina and her colleagues decided to start an organization of their own. The organization, “We Move Madagascar,” aims “to address girls’ and women’s issues in road safety, business and entrepreneurship, youth empowerment, and cultural matters.”

“Our latest action,” Irina says, was at a social center that takes in girls who face issues “such as rape, abuse, parental abandonment, or legal problems which placed them on trial.” According to Irina, “We mentor them from the roots… We assist in their school duties and give additional support for language classes, for example.”

Group of people cheering, looking up
Group of people cheering, looking up

Irina also led a session to teach the girls how to decorate the center with recycled materials. “The objective was to teach them the importance of aesthetics and details, which they will be introduced to in the professional world,” Irina says. “The session was appreciated by both the girls and the staff,” she says, and several more sessions with different aims are planned for this year.