Wednesday, 29 June 2011

They came from the streets, the fields and the classrooms..

MfM Trustee Martin Wilkinson has just spent a month visiting projects across the length and breadth of the Madagascar. On Martin's final day MfM Partners gathered together from across the Island, joining him to celebrate 25 years of MfM.
MfM is not renowned for throwing parties! On the contrary they pride themselves on their no-frills approach to development work, ensuring that every last penny reaches the people in greatest need. But when Akany Avoko Children’s Home offered to host a party to say thank you to MfM everyone was delighted.

Leaving behind for one evening their special needs school, homelessness projects, training programmes, primary schools, farmers and forests, representatives from large and small NGOs alike gathered for a rare opportunity to relax, exchange ideas and celebrate their achievements.
Martin, clearly touched by the event, shares his experience with us…

"Malagasy people enjoy anniversaries, so we knew the party to celebrate 25 years of Money for Madagascar and its partners would be a good one. As dusk fell, we gathered in the courtyard at Akany Avoko Ambohidratrimo, a remarkable Children’s Home near Antananarivo, supported by MfM for 20 years. It was wonderful that many of our partners from other MfM projects came to share in the celebration; 4 staff from the church development agency SAF, the directors of La Source Special Needs School, Pasteur Helivao who runs social projects for destitute children and families, and Solo and Martin whose associations help rural communities to build schools.
Backed by the cheerful crowd of 110 children, we faced a spot lit stage, where a backcloth of parachute silk billowed in the evening breeze as the moon rose above. Our host was one of the girls from AAA. Once a destitute child, she was now our charming and beautifully poised host, completely in command of performers and audience, like a veteran TV presenter. After speeches in Malagasy, French and English, at last the music and dancing. A live band, plus
singing recorded on site, stirred up the action. Forty of the AAA staff, in groups dressed in traditional costumes of different regions of Madagascar, took turns to show their local dances, to the cheers of the children massed behind us."

"Then one team after another of the children, beautifully dressed in brilliant costumes, (made, of course, at the home) showed off their dances with skill and happy confidence that would make any school or parent proud. In the last dance the older girls, dressed in shining satin, looked like princesses at a ball."
"Afterwards we cut a birthday cake as big as a table, and went in to a delicious feast, the children waiting in cheerful anticipation till the last was seated and Helivao had said the grace. It was extraordinary to think that every child who comes to the home has suffered some extraordinary difficulty – bereavement, abuse, abandonment, or arrest. But the love and expert care they find at AAA, with all the resources of the place and the staff, transform their lives. In the words of Sister Annamma, another of our partners who works with street children, ‘We help them to stand tall, and to value themselves.’ After four weeks seeing the projects that MfM supports in Madagascar, it feels like they are all about transforming lives and helping people to stand tall."

Thank you, Lalasoa and Akany Avoko for your wonderful hospitality. And thank you to all our Partners who work so tirelessly to help the poor of Madagascar. We are thrilled you had a rare chance to relax, celebrate, and no doubt network as well! Here’s to the next 25 years!