Party under the Pergola

On Saturday afternoon, June 29th, from 5-7 pm, we will be hosting "Party under the Pergola" in Greenport, Long Island. The summer fȇte will raise money for a school for disadvantaged children in Madagascar, Centre Fihavanana, and its social justice programs. (See my last blog.) Founded in 1985 by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, the center is located in the capital city of Antananarivo ("Tana"). The school educates both girls and boys ages 4-16 who come from struggling families by offering instruction and vocational training while providing the students two meals a day. A food program also serves women in prison.

When I visited Centre Fihavanana on December 18th of last year, the director Sister Annamma told me that they still needed 12 chickens for the Christmas dinner which they prepare each year for women in prison. The cost of the chickens was 85,000 ariary, about US $24 or $2 apiece. I was happy to contribute the chickens for the holiday dinner which included rice and beans with litchi fruit. Fihavanana supports itself, in part, by selling beautiful, hand-made embroidery work. However, the center counts on outside support and donations for its activities.

ORIGIN OF THE WORD “FIHAVANANA”

Fihavanana is a Malagasy term encompassing the concept of kinship, friendship, goodwill between beings, both physical and spiritual. Its origin is "havana," meaning kin. Malagasy culture is full of proverbs related to fihavanana: “Ny Fihavanana no taloha ny vola,” which loosely translated means “The relationship is more important than the money.” But fihavanana is more than just “relationship.” It comes from the belief that we are all one blood and that how we treat others will eventually be reflected back to us; and that we should be proactive about goodwill for the good of the world.

SPONSORS

One of the sponsors of the event is Madécasse Chocolate and Vanilla, an American company based in Madagascar with headquarters in DUMBO, Brooklyn. It works directly with cacao farmers -- training them and buying their fermented beans at a price per kilo that is higher than what local collectors and exporters offer. The dried beans are then processed into bars in Madécasse’s new, state-of-the-art factory in Tana. In this way, value is added locally while offering a livelihood for Malagasy cacao farmers, factory workers, and their families.

Agricultural workers, such as the laborers I interviewed on the three main cacao plantations in the Sambirano Valley in the northwest of the island, earn about 20 cents an hour; they work 40 hours a week, 200 hours a month. An agricultural worker's minimum wage is 134,920.00 ariary per month, or under $40. Their earnings are not enough to sustain their families financially, and many must grow agricultural crops, like rice, to be self-sufficient and provide food for the table.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DONATE TO OUR FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN OR WANT

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE EVENT, GO TO OUR GOFUNDME SITE:

https://www.gofundme.com/centre-fihavanana-madagascar.

The children and teachers at Centre Fihavanana will thank you!

Photograph of the school children at Fihavanana is courtesy and copyright of Joerg Boethling

in Hamburg, Germany. His contact information: www.visualindia.de.

The second photo shows women sorting dried cacao beans. They participate in the coop Tsy Nampoiziko in the village of Antranokarany, one of the cacao coops which works with Madécasse (Schnepel, 2018).

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