“We too will share seeds with those who are as needy as we are.”
Our Madagascar partnership combines vegetable gardening with women’s literacy programming to create strong impact on the lives of women and families that participate.
In its 2013 report, The World Bank indicated that, as a result of the political upheaval in Madagascar from 2009 through 2013, quality of life deteriorated within the country. Income per capital fell to its 2001 level. An estimated 92% of the population of Madagascar now lives on less than $2 a day, making it one of the world’s poorest countries. About half of adults cannot read or write.
Key partners in this project include ONG St. Gabriel (operating the program in Toamasina), the Caring Response Madagascar Foundation (or CRMF, providing US-based support), and the Watson Children’s Foundation (funding partner).
Project Coordinator Vero Rasoazanamita now oversees 15 literacy centers and has enrolled 2,200 families in the gardening project. Gardening training is integrated into the literacy curriculum—Mme. Vero finds that adult students are even more motivated toward literacy when there are tangible successes to be achieved such as reading gardening instructions.
Virginia Wiltse, Director of CRMF, says, “This program has been a huge success in Madagascar where it operates through our literacy centers in the region of Toamasina. . . . In Madagascar, where malnutrition is rampant and food prices have skyrocketed in the midst of economic crisis, the seed program has been undeniably life-saving.”
Nirina, a 38 year old participant in the program: “It is not easy to feed five mouths, especially these days when high price of food in Tamatave is well known. Fortunately, we were able to benefit from the vegetable garden project. We worked hard and made a success of it. The vegetable seeds that you gave are very costly and scarce. Not everybody is able to buy them. We are very happy and lively. Because we cannot return anything to you but thanks, we promise you that we too will share seeds with those who are as needy as we are. We are already on the way to duplicating the seed. We ate and are in good health and are full of joy. Many thanks!”