Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Right now, vanilla is not as ‘sweet’ as you may think – here is why.

Vanilla is a highly used product to say the least, it features in a wide variety of desserts, yet there is ultimately a ‘dark side’ surrounding its production. Madagascar is home to 60 – 80% of worldwide Vanilla, (1) yet is suffering due to a large-scale vanilla shortage, making it more expensive than silver. (2) As vanilla is key to so many elements of food, Malagasy farmers are under huge pressure to produce during this shortage. Due to factors such as unpredictable crops thanks to adverse weather, and also the widespread poverty of these farmers, success in the grass-roots Vanilla market is anything but easy.

Vanilla now costs more than ten times as much as it did a few years ago - at a staggering $600 (£429) per Kilo. (2)The many companies that use Vanilla are angered by this surge in price due to lack of consistent growth, yet what are the poor farmers to do when they find it hard enough to make a stable living? The Vanilla harvest can be complicated enough, without even considering the current unstable market and unpredictable weather – even in a good season, each plant must be individually pollinated and nurtured for around 5 years to produce the required seed pods – far from a quick fix for farmers. As it takes so long to produce, when there is a shortage due to adverse conditions, this will be a threatening situation for the Malagasy farmers – where else can they turn for the crop and cash they need to survive?

Some things are for sure though – the price of Vanilla seems set to continue to rise and farmers seem set to continue to struggle – so? The Malagasy farmers really do need a helping hand. There are many ways in which we can do a little but make a big difference in Madagascar. Only a few pounds can ensure shelter, hygiene, education or sanitation. If you would be interested n making such a difference, please consider making a donation at www.moneyformadagascar/donate , Thank you.

Written by Matthew Ward

Friday, 25 May 2018

One of the largest islands in the World, Lemurs, Vanilla, Pepper, Poverty and…….rare medicinal cures ???

Image from Science Daily

Madagascar is an amazing and complex country, filled with often either rare or unique animals and plants; furthermore, a large proportion of world vanilla originates from Madagascar – one of the world’s largest islands. These are some of Madagascar’s ‘highlights’, though unfortunately it’s poverty is also a complex situation, as it can be difficult for people to find their basic needs such as food, water, shelter or health care.

Now though, another interesting detail has emerged – potentially one which could offer life – changing benefits. Madagascar has hundreds of unique plants – yet now, after several decades of research, plant scientists have uncovered a fascinating detail about a plant called Madagascar periwinkle – that it produces a cancer – fighting compound named vinblastine.

A team from the John Innes Centre in Norwich have found that the compound which is found in the leaves of the Periwinkle, can be used to create much needed drugs to fight against Testicular, Breast, Bladder and Lung Cancer.

This plant has been known since the 1950s. What is new and significant about this discovery is that scientists have only just understood how the plant produces vinblastine, and they hope to use the natural product to understand how the compound is produced and thus synthetically produce it to offer a cancer treatment quicker, more effectively and to more people.

This is an example of Madagascar continuing to surprise and produce. There is a problem, though. Madagascar is also one of the poorest countries, in which some people are forced to exploit the environment, merely to survive. It is clear that there are two key elements to work on to allow this amazing country to survive and thrive. It is important to help the people, ensure they get things such a good education, food or sanitation, which can then allow them to succeed and not need to destroy the land – if we help the people, then both they and the natural environment will both win.

If you would like to know more about how this could be done, or to make a donation – and make an immediate impact to Madagascar, please see our website at https://moneyformadagascar.org/ Thank you.

Sources –

Written By Matthew Ward

Thursday, 24 May 2018

NY AKO Concert in Lancaster – 14th June 2018

Money for Madagascar (MFM) is hosting the wonderful and amazingly talented NY AKO group on 14th June 2018 at Lancaster Methodist Church, Scotforth Rd. Lancaster LA1 4TE at 7:30pm.

This family-friendly event will feature traditional Malagasy music and dance from around the Island. There is a suggested donation of £10 at the door (£5 for concessions) with donations going to our partners and projects across Madagascar, which support some of the most vulnerable people in the world.

Madagascar is a beautiful country with amazing people but it also one of the poorest in the world today with many facing water and food shortages, as well as poor education. This immense poverty also puts pressure on Madagascar’s beautiful and unique environment and this is why funding these projects through is so vital. Our projects support the Malagasy people in their day-to-day lives helping to reduce poverty, improve education, and also preserve and protect Madagascar’s beautiful and unique environment.

Madagascar also supports projects, which help the Malagasy people start their own businesses. Less than 20% of the population in Madagascar are in formal employment and so we work with partners who offer training, small grants, tools and materials, which help thousands of poor Malagasy start their income generating enterprises. By attending the Ny Ako performance you can actively help the Malagasy people!

For more information about our projects visit https://moneyformadagascar.org/ or to make a donation visit https://moneyformadagascar.org/make-a-donation/

Thank you

Written by John Garman

Friday, 11 May 2018

Benjamin's Lemur Bounce!

Money for Madagascar (MFM) would like to say a huge thank you to Benjamin and his classmates who have raised an incredible £1060.53 so far which will be used to help replenish the decreasing rainforest and lemur habitats in Madagascar. Benjamin and his classmates bounced like the lemurs of Madagascar non-stop for 30 minutes, all to aid the vital projects which MFM supports!

Due to the extreme poverty in Madagascar, huge amounts of pressure are placed on its beautiful and unique environment resulting in mass deforestation which in turns puts unique flora and fauna (80% of which is found only in Madagascar) at risk of extinction. This in turn puts mass pressure on Madagascar’s unique species, including Lemurs, who struggle to survive in smaller and smaller forests.

Many of the poorest who live on the rainforest margins in Madagascar struggle to find enough land to grow the food that they need to survive. This land degradation means they are forced to clear the rainforest to grow food and produce to feed themselves, resulting in severe impacts on the lemurs and other native species. It is hard for the Malagasy people to consider the consequences of their actions when they are trying to feed their families. 

This is why our projects are so vital, our partners work with those who live in areas affected by land degradation and provide them with training and resources to sustainably grow vegetables, rice, and fruit trees resulting in less pressure on the Malagasy rainforests and also the Lemurs! By providing agricultural training, environmental education, tools, seeds, livestock, small grants and technical support, we have helped thousands of villagers to improve their quality of life, whilst also protecting the rainforests. We also help by planting and sustaining new forests. For example, we work with our partner Mitsinjo who are planting precious wildlife corridors to help preserve the distinctive flora and fauna around Madagascar’s Andasibe National Park - https://associationmitsinjo.wordpress.com/

MFM would like to say a massive thank you to Benjamin and his classmates for their incredible fundraising efforts and for all the jumping! Their willingness to help those in need is inspiring and will so greatly benefit the Malagasy people and their environment!

Well done!

It costs only £3 to plant and sustain an indigenous rainforest tree so why not show your support for Benjamin and his classmates by making a donation here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/help-madagascarlemurs

To find out more about our projects protecting Madagascar’s environment visit: www.moneyformadagascar.org

Written by John Garman

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Bicentenary celebrations

What are we celebrating? An amazing piece of almost-forgotten history that started in disaster when, in 1818, all but one of the first group of Welsh missionaries, sent by the London Missionary Society, died of fever within eleven weeks of landing in Madagascar. The survivor, David Jones, went back to Mauritius to recover but later returned to Madagascar. A third young Welshman, David Griffiths, and his wife Mary arrived there in 1820. 
What followed was truly astonishing: Mary and the two Davids went up to the capital, learnt Malagasy and started schools, with girls included from the very beginning. By 1824, scarcely three years after their arrival, over 2,000 children were in school and being taught in their own language. The two Davids built a chapel and started preaching in Malagasy.  With the help of their most able pupils they then set about translating the Bible and the first complete edition was published in 1835.
At the request of King Radama and using the Roman script, they created a written form of the Malagasy language which is almost perfectly phonetic. As a result, learning to read has been a relatively painless process for generations of Malagasy children ever since.
Various events are planned to mark this bicentenary. Ny Ako, a group of Malagasy singers and dancers, will be touring the UK from 31st May - 18th June. Their programme will be detailed in another blog.  The Welsh Independent Chapels have plans for celebrations from 8th – 10th June in West Wales, from where the first two missionaries came, including a play, a concert and a service of thanksgiving.
Theresa, Co-ordinator of MfM for many years, is putting on a concert in Cardiff on 22nd September featuring Welsh and Malagasy musicians. Details of this will be included nearer the time in another blog. 
Music reaches every part of life in Madagascar and when King George IV sent King Radama the gift of a piano he was overjoyed.  Some of the music composed by him in the 1820s will be performed in this concert.
Paddy Bush, brother of the singer Kate Bush, is Irish, not Malagasy, but he is a fine performer on the Valiha, the national instrument of Madagascar, and will be joining Justin Vali and his group in the Cardiff concert.

We look forward to seeing MfM supporters at one or more of these events.

To find out more information email info@moneyformadagascar.org or to make a donation visit www.moneyformadagascar/donate

By Theresa Haine

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Thank you Frank!

Money for Madagascar (MfM) would like to say a huge thank you and goodbye to our volunteer Francis (Frank) Philips who has left to start a new adventure in Australia. Frank has been involved with volunteering at the MfM office in Lancaster since 2016. He has been assisting with various tasks, which aid some of the neediest and poorest people in Madagascar.

Frank started working with MfM when he rented a room in the same building as our office, which meant he could easily head downstairs to lend a hand! Frank primarily worked on our social media pages updating Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and our blog pages allowing us to share the stories of our beneficiaries and supporters locally, nationally and on a worldwide scale.

Frank also aided us with key administrate tasks including filing, scanning, database work, and other crucial tasks which help the charity continue providing support to vital projects such as providing education to children most in need, protecting Madagascar’s beautiful and unique environment and helping to provide food, water and shelter to those facing hardship.
This is why volunteers are so important to MfM - volunteers contribute to office work, research tasks, fundraising activities and many other tasks that help MfM support the Malagasy people.

Would YOU like to offer your skills and time to improve the lives and prospects of people in Madagascar, whilst helping to protect their unique environment?

If the answer is yes, then we would love to hear from you! Whatever your skills, if you have interest and enthusiasm, your time can be put to good use!

Volunteering for MfM will give you the opportunity to gain experience and new skills, whilst providing you with the knowledge that your work is really making a difference to people’s lives. Whether you want to work occasionally, from the comfort of your own home or to join our team in the Lancaster office as an intern, we can find a role that will suit your interests and availability!

Frank said of his time volunteering, “Volunteering for Money for Madagascar in their office was very rewarding and enabled me to develop a number of skills which will aid me in the future. It was also fascinating to learn more about the wonderful nation of Madagascar and the people who live there.”

To find out more about volunteering with MfM contact us via email: admin@moneyformadagascar.org or check out our volunteering opportunities page on our website -

Franks enthusiasm to help those in Madagascar was inspiring and his generous support which will greatly benefit the Malagasy people. He will be greatly missed by all of us here at MfM. We wish him all the best for his new adventure!

Thanks Frank!

By John Garman

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Hip Hip Hurrah for Harry Cassie and his family and friends!

We are very pleased to highlight the generous support of three generations of the Cassie family to Money for Madagascar (MfM). Harry Cassie along with his friends and family are currently raising money to fund projects on the island of Madagascar.

This remarkable family has been involved with Madagascar since the 1960s when Harry’s grandfather Stuart Cassie was working as a volunteer teacher in Madagascar. The photo below is of him at a reunion with people he had taught when he was volunteering. Both of these former students are now teachers!

Stuart Cassie with his former students
After he retired, Stuart was deeply involved with MfM as the treasurer from 2002 to 2013. His son Alastair went on to volunteer in Madagascar during his gap year. The latest person to support MfM is Alastair’s son Harry.
Harry has set up a Just Giving page to raise funds for MfM as part of his Duke of Edinburgh Bronze award. In his own words:

“Madagascar is 1000 miles long and it seemed like an appropriate target to match with my goal of raising £1000. With this sum the charity can provide and install a water well for a school in a rural community, raise more we can give the tools and seeds to plant fruit and vegetable gardens, the opportunities are endless. As part of my updates I'll be highlighting different projects that Money for Madagascar is involved in as well as my own progress and that of others participating.
So over the past few months I've been getting some miles under my belt, and am now launching my campaign for sponsorship.  I have completed 68/1000 miles since the start of December. Time to get moving a lot more!
How can you help ?
1/ Sponsor to achieve the £1000 target (e.g. 1p per mile is just £10!)
2 / Donate miles* - donate some personal miles that you can achieve through walking / running / cycling swimming before 1/7/2018 and we'll get to our 1000 mile target quicker...Together we can reach more people and raise awareness of the plight of Madagascar and the invaluable work that Money for Madagascar charity does.
* If donating miles please keep a record of how you've achieved your miles, ideally with evidence from either a written log / fitbit / phoneapp”

We wish Harry and his friends and family all the very best and thank them for supporting the work of MfM. This fundraising effort is also a wonderful tribute to his grandfather Stuart Cassie.

Please click on the link below, if you would like to see Harry achieve his target!

many thanks

Sunita Abraham

Friday, 23 March 2018

Marking success by making a real difference

Money for Madagascar is very grateful to Sara Mros (from Sweden) and her colleagues for raising funds for Akany Avoko Faravohitra (AAF) as a way of celebrating the completion of her PhD! Together they raised an amazing £758 to support the work of the centre. Sara and her colleagues hope that this will be an opportunity to build on the existing work that the centre does with girl children.

The centre provides food, clean water and a place to stay for the children. It also helps these children get a good education – boosting their prospects. Donations from people like Sara and her colleagues also help fund the staff in the centre – meaning that there is always someone there for the children.

Any money which goes to centres like AAF is guaranteed to change the lives of the children who live there, giving them the chances which we often take for granted.

Thank you Sara and friends for making the dreams of these children a reality.

If you would like to make this difference too, please consider making a donation at

Thank you.

Matthew Ward

Friday, 16 March 2018

Oliver’s Give Jar

Money For Madagscar (MfM) which is a UK-based charity has a latest donor from quite some distance away – America!  Oliver, aged 5, keeps a ‘give jar’ – putting aside part of his weekly allowance, and then each year deciding on a project to which he could donate the money. MfM are delighted that this year Oliver chose to donate £10 to our partner in Madagascar - the Akany Avoko Childrens centre, just outside the capital.

You may be surprised at quite how much £10 can do in Madagascar. It can provide nutritious lunches for one child for a whole month, fund clean drinking water and also provide water for cleaning. Oliver’s money can also be used for education which will form a good basis for the lives and future prospects of the children. MfM helps to finance education from pre – school age all the way to high school – Oliver’s money could support education for some people in his own age group. This money can also go towards funding the staff, meaning that there is always someone there for the children, whatever they may need. Alternatively, it could be used to replant around 10 trees – helping the lemurs which Oliver likes, to survive.

Ultimately, it is stories like that of Oliver’s give jar, which show how the world may be united if there is the wish to make real change, also that even sums like £10 can make a huge difference.

Once again, MFM are truly thankful to Oliver for his generosity and desire to make a difference in the world. Thank you also to his wonderful parents and family that encourage him to think of the world beyond their own home. His parents, Paul and Alison were former Peace Corps volunteers in Madagascar and they try to keep close ties with all things associated with Madagascar.

If you wish to change the world too, please consider making a donation at

Thank You.
Matthew Ward

Friday, 23 February 2018

Water, water everywhere……well, not in Madagascar.

In Europe, it is difficult to imagine much time without rain – it is just part of our lives. Thousands of miles away in Madagascar though, water can be ‘harder to come by’, and can sometimes be a luxury. Parts of Madagascar are currently suffering from severe drought, particularly in the south – at times like this, they really need help.

Families must make long journeys to collect water because of the drought currently affecting the country

It is thought that the El Nino weather system has decreased the rainy season in Madagascar by one or two months. With the drought, basic needs are increasingly difficult to find. Lakes have become puddles, crops have decreased severely and malnutrition, particularly amongst children, is worryingly high. The droughts have changed the very way in which people live. Families must now wake early and make long distance trips to collect water, bathe and wash clothes, as there is no ‘oasis’ near them – but they must find water somehow.

Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world, yet people are having to use what money they have to buy water cans. In a country where 92% of people live on less than a couple of pounds a day, having to then use this just to get water is shocking. but a price they must pay.

The drought exacerbates other issues which affect Madagascar, such as abject poverty. 

This problem adds to a list of issues which Madagascar must face – such as poor infrastructure, a struggling health system and lack of access to education. It is at times like this that we can really make a difference and improve lives. MFM has a strong track record of responding to natural issues such as droughts, using our partners ‘on the ground’ to get what is needed to those who need it most. Subsequently, MFM has played an influential part, for instance by installing easily accessible wells in some of the more remote areas.

If you would like to make a difference and change the lives of those in need, please consider making a donation at    https://moneyformadagascar.org/ Thank you.

Main source - https://www.buzzfeed.com/tamerragriffin/this-is-what-its-like-when-your-country-runs-out-of-water?utm_term=.rek99OlZk#.xukMMAWLm

By Matthew Ward