Madagascar village becomes safe haven for families
August 5, 2013
The sounds of giggles fill the air as children play in beautiful fields under bright skies. Their parents till rice paddies, sell charcoal and run various other small businesses.
Victorine (left) and Albertine (right) in their village.
Life was not always like this in the bustling village in the island nation of Madagascar, off the southeastern coast of Africa.
There was an uneasy feeling some years back. Residents lived in fear as thefts, robberies and other crimes, some committed in broad daylight, were commonplace. The nighttime was especially tense.
When CFCA opened an office in 2010 and recruited children in the Hope for a Family sponsorship program, things started to change. The people had a renewed hope.
"I have lived in this community for 20 years and I never felt safe," said Victorine, whose 9-year-old grandson, Bienvenu, is sponsored through CFCA. "This all changed when CFCA became part of our community.
"The people now are changing their lives and trying to make the best out of what they have instead of stealing from each other."
Antsirabe residents gather around to read local newspaper headlines.
The village is located in one of the poorest areas of Antsirabe, a city of more than 180,000 and the third largest in Madagascar. Many people are unemployed and struggling to make ends meet.
Out of desperation, some residents stole from each other and committed other crimes. Young people turned to drugs and alcohol to escape the harsh reality of their lives.
"CFCA had a hard time trying to empower [the families] and change the mindset of the community," said Razafimanantsoa Hanitra Clarisse, a CFCA social worker. "We shared the Hope for a Family characteristics with the parents of the sponsored children, and encouraged them to spread these values to the rest of the community."
Residents have started using their talents and the little resources they have to start small income-generating businesses to sustain their families. The families of CFCA sponsored children have become role models for others in the community.
"My community now has become a safe haven for me and my family," Victorine said. "There is love and togetherness amongst us."
Residents go about their daily lives in peace as a result of reduced crime
in the area of Antsirabe, Madagascar, where they live.
Albertine, whose 10-year-old son, Moustafa, is sponsored, echoed that sentiment.
"I am now proud to be part of the community," she said. "My children and I are safe living here."
The CFCA mothers group has played a big role in building a "community of compassion" in the village, Clarisse said.
"As CFCA, we are happy that we were part of a transformed community," she concluded.
A small flame can illuminate light even in the darkest of nights. CFCA sponsorship has been this small flame to the people of a village in Antisirabe.
Editor's note: CFCA serves more than 3,400 children and aging friends in Madagascar through the Hope for a Family program, with more than 400 on our waiting list for sponsorship.