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CFCA stories

Sponsorship helps family grow basket business

September 19, 2011

CFCA: Floreat and basket weaving in Madagascar
Floréat, mother of a CFCA sponsored child, weaves and sells
baskets to help support her family.

With bright and colorful plastic strands, Floréat and her eldest daughter gracefully weave baskets to fill a client's order. Baskets are quite popular in Madagascar, and they come in many shapes, sizes and colors.

Floréat and her husband, Sylvain, weave and sell baskets to help support their family. They have eight children. Five attend school. Their 10-year-old son, Fenosoa, is sponsored through CFCA's Hope for a Family program.

The benefits of the sponsorship program have given the family the opportunity to increase the monthly income they earn through basket weaving.

"We are totally convinced that we are away from trouble because of the CFCA support," Floréat said. "We are ready to improve our life and our income-generating activities."

A family affair

When Floréat was young, she watched her mother weave baskets. As she grew, she focused her attention on her mother's practice and eventually taught herself how to weave the many different kinds of baskets popular in Madagascar.

Floreat, mother of a CFCA sponsored child, and her family basket weaving in Madagascar
Floréat and her family weave baskets together.

Every Saturday morning, the family gathers together to weave baskets. They can make 15 to 20 baskets per day, They generally make saronankarona, taty and sobika baskets, depending on the client's request.

Before Fenosoa was accepted into the Hope for a Family sponsorship program, surviving each day was a struggle for the family. Floréat and her husband earned only enough money to cover their food for the day.

In 2005, their life changed when Fenosoa became sponsored. Sponsorship now covers Fenosoa's school registration fees and the things he needs for school, such as books, a uniform and supplies. The family also receives food benefits such as rice. They exchange baskets outside Antsirabe for corn, rice and cassava.

With the burden of these costs lifted, Floréat and Sylvain were finally able to save some of the money they earned.

Baskets in Madagascar

Malagasy residents use different types of baskets
made from plastic straps, reeds or wheat straw.
Some names and uses of these baskets:

  • Taty: Used mainly to keep smaller objects,
    such as onions and salt.
  • Bazary or harona: Used to carry goods,
    especially when going shopping.
  • Sobika: Used for covering egg-laying hens
    or carrying items on the head. Also used as
    garbage containers.
  • Lakisa or saronankarona: Stores clothes
    or other items. It can even replace a suitcase.
    According to tradition, if a younger sister
    marries before her older sister, she has to
    offer her older sister this type of basket.

CFCA helped Floréat and her family grow their basket-weaving business. The family has purchased two bicycles: a large bike to transport material and deliver finished baskets, and a small bike to run errands.

Teaching others

Floréat taught herself, her husband and her children how to weave baskets. She also taught her neighbors and members of surrounding groups, including the CFCA mothers groups, to weave.

Celestine, another mother in the sponsorship program, has found success with this livelihood project. She learned a skill from Floréat that provides her with a sustainable income for her family.

The Hope for a Family program in Madagascar supports families of sponsored friends by facilitating and encouraging self-help mothers groups. In these groups, mothers of sponsored children share knowledge and work toward becoming self-sufficient, instead of relying on a handout.

"Mothers groups provide a forum where women can share, communicate and become empowered," said Greta Ryan, project director for Madagascar. "The CFCA mothers group provided the opportunity for Floréat to share her knowledge with other mothers so they could create income-generating activities."

Fenosoa and his family are grateful and thankful for his sponsor, Christine Dunning, and for the Hope for a Family sponsorship program.

Dunning said she chose to sponsor Fenosoa at a parish appeal because she just knew that he was a special young man.

Dunning, a single, working mother of three, said she thought sponsorship would be a rewarding thing for her and her children.

"When we got his letter we all sat down while my daughter read it to us," she said. "It was very eye opening to them to hear how he lived."

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