TASC Madagascar Trip 2011
TASC Madagascar trip 2011
It has been 10 years since this all started and our lives have changed so much in the intervening years that it is hard to remember just how different things are for us all but also how many things have stayed the same for our friends in Madagascar.
The old man, King of Ambatoabo Kely, the Leprosy village still suffers with his rotting foot and arrived late to the party with his old bent wooden stick. We had a lady from Taunton with us who is a physio and my wife Jane had sent her old crutches from Ireland in my daughter Kate’s bike box.
Sarah had him fitted with two crutches in 15 minutes and he was simply delighted. The party rolled on, oblivious in a way. as does life for many of these forgotten people but a few days later my brother Jim gave me a scythe that one of the villages uses to cut grass working in the community, so if we did nothing more as your representatives , we got that man out from behind the wall of the leprosy village and he has a job.
The work that Pere Emeric is doing at Tanjomoha is simply inspiring and his work on the new houses, with 25 carpenters making trusses and vertical timbers to perfection, is incredible. He has over 400 houses built this year at a cost of 85 Euro each and the locals all help to build and contribute to the cost in time.
All the new houses down on the Matitanana River will stand for years, and can withstand the yearly flooding. The vegetable growing and new way of growing rice with our treadle pumps for irrigation may give the people a second crop every year. We are importing another 20 pumps in the next few weeks which will be shared by 4 families each and which are subsidized with all the donations so many wonderful people have sent.
The outcast village at Nohona that we visited again is now becoming part of the overall community , so all our efforts to break down the historic barriers are working.
Still a lot to do and we have to keep our commitment to education every year, but you can see the changes in the faces and smiles of the kids and in Pere’s real delight in seeing us and showing us around.
The houses in the leprosy village in Farafangana are dry and the people are raising their children and grandchildren as part of the whole community.
The oxygen concentrators TASC sent last year are in daily use and are shared with the local hospital.
We had a great party at Tanjomoha as usual and headed back to Manakara for a day’s rest.
Stu brought me to the mental hospital on the outskirts of town. Pere has been feeding the people there for the past 4 years and I was expecting to see some difficult situations from his
descriptions but could never have imagined the reality.
If in ten years we have ever seen inhumanity to our fellow human beings nothing compared to Manakara.
The state of the hospital cannot be imagined. There are no doors, windows or any type of sanitation. Maggots cover the filthy floors where old men and women languish in their own waste along with young girls and babies half mad from the conditions, overcrowding and neglect.
I have never seen anything like it and as I said to Pere, Bruce, Stu and the young Italian missionary Erica, the situation is simply unacceptable.
I thought I had seen hell and no more until we went and saw the man in the concrete box.
He is imprisoned in a concrete room with no light and no windows. He goes to the bathroom in a hole in the floor in the corner and is never let out. Another young man of about 20 called George is in the same state and is left unspoken to all day and all night.
Pere or Erica do any work. Stu and the girl guides gave some mattresses last year and Pere built a kitchen, but still no water, no toilets, no hope and the most debased conditions on the
We are starting another 10 years and the members of TASC with all your help will fix this place, and we have to get that man out of his box and get the chains off those feet. I will never forget the day.
I said my goodbyes to Pere in the old jeep and he dropped me off back to the beach and I went for a swim. I felt unclean and still do. I will never wash the memory of that man from my mind and we simply cannot rest until we help him into proper accommodation where he can breathe and see the sky.
The horror continues and the forgotten remain but if we are to be true to our promise and the goals of TASC then we are not for turning.
The generosity of so many has made such a difference and you’ll be blessed.
We’ll keep going for another bit.
Pat O’Brien on behalf of TASC