Here we are again; ready to embark on yet another adventure. This year I am happily traveling with my son Julien who has been enamored by everything Malagasy and is excited to discover the country and the people there. Julien just graduated from American University with a degree in International Affairs and has been nominated for the Peace Corps. This will be a great way for him to see and experience life in a developing nation.
Yesterday we got all of our shots, including: Typhoid, Hepatitis A and B and Tetanus, as well as Malarone pills to prevent malaria, and Cipro for, yep… an upset stomach. I don’t reflect on the conditions there too often, but thinking about the possibility of contracting any of these diseases is certainly eye- opening.
This time I’ll be setting up lab programs in two very impoverished areas, Fort Dauphin on the southeast coast, and Sakaraha which is two hours northeast of Tulear. Fort Dauphin seems to attract some tourists and will have a small infrastructure, but Sakaraha will not. Basic everyday necessities such as food will need to be brought with us from Tuléar as there are no grocery stores or restaurants in this small village. Everyone who knows me well will tell you I am not the “camping type” so this experience will certainly stretch me to the limits of my comfort zone.
All of that aside, I know that there are Malagasy children anxiously awaiting our arrival and their energy and enthusiasm always makes me forget the harsh conditions in which they live.
If you follow me on Facebook, you know that I have received a first shipment of ten computers from the Athenian School in California. My friend with the Decatur Texas School system will be sending another five computers later this week. Combined with the five computers, which were donated by Saint Andrew’s School where I teach, this brings the grand total to twenty. My colleagues at Saint Andrew’s have again generously offered to re-image, then set up a web server for the computers so they will be all ready for use when I arrive at my two destinations. Over in Madagascar, the desks and chairs have been ordered and are being made by a local Malagasy craftsman. Electricity lines are in place, and the students are waiting for our arrival.
Tomorrow, along with prepping the computers, I’ll be going to the teaching supply store to purchase certificates, stickers, and name plates to give out both during the program and at the graduation ceremony I hold at the end. It doesn’t seem like much, but for the Malagasy, even a small recognition is taken with heartfelt appreciation. The countdown has begun!