Scout leader and science teacher Lahatra is working hard to make sure that Madagascar's youth get to know the scientific truth about menstruation! Historically it has been a taboo subject, so the charity WaterAid decided to use Madagascar's network of more than 30,000 scouts to spread a positive message of menstrual health
Beekeeping tech Jevago has been delivering training in wax production to the beekeepers of Project Renitantely! Each beekeeper learns how to process excess wax produced by the bees into a sellable product, boosting their incomes and making the most of the bees' hard work - did you know that each bee consumes over 3.5kg of honey to produce just half a kilo of wax?!
With their newfound knowledge, beekeepers can sell a kilo of wax for 10,000 ariary - compare that to 7000 Ar for a litre of honey! Local cooperatives like Honey and Soga can then boost their profits further by making it into high value products like herbal remedies, oils and candles!
Thanks to the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation for their continued support of Project Renitantely!
Hey friends! We're hosting our final Stitch Sainte Luce market of the year on the 14th – 17th December at the Kings Cross Canopy Market in London for a Christmas special and could use a hand!
We're looking for some volunteers to host the stall which will run at the following times (plus half an hour before/after to set up and close down):
Thursday: 12pm – 8pm
Friday: 12pm – 8pm
Saturday: 11am – 6pm
Sunday: 11am – 6pm
Please let us know whether you're able to help out, even if just for a few hours, by emailing Rebecca at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Check out this field report from Harry, one of our recent volunteers!
"I had a truly fantastic volunteering experience in Sainte Luce! The daily routine of camp life in Sainte Luce became ingrained in me very quickly, and I fell in love with the balance of life, whether doing transect walks, spotting lemurs or just relaxing at the beach! Crucially, I learnt that with nature, patience is the key and things do not always go as planned!
I cannot speak more highly of the Conservation Programme at SEED Madagascar. The research-driven schedule of the programme gave me a first-hand insight into the joys and struggles of conservation in a truly unique location! What’s more, volunteering in this incredible environment with such a great group of people made my experience so much more enjoyable! My research assistants were very approachable and willing to assist in any way they could, from developing my research skills to caring for my health in what is a very challenging environment. All of the local guides had a wealth of knowledge about the area and were always on hand on offer their care if a volunteer felt unwell. Special mention and thanks goes to Yvon, who ordered pizzas to satisfy Daniel and mine’s hunger when we fell ill! What blew me away most of all though, was the guides’ incredible ability to spot camouflaged insects that for most of us were impossible to see!
My overall highlight was simply the breathtaking environment of Sainte Luce. The sunrise walks to Manafiafy, the night stroll up the road to see the electric lightning of a tropical storm, and learning that any journey in a pirogue boat can be both perilous and tranquil in equal measure! I saw species that I had no idea existed, even if I have forgotten their names already. Ultimately though, some of my most cherished memories of life in Madagascar were the moments that I least expected; from Daniel’s tent accident to Larissa’s pirogue slip, and of course, any time that lemurs came leaping through camp!"
Last week Stitch Sainte Luce had some very special visitors! Leopardess Foundation have been supporting the cooperative since their first visit to Sainte Luce back in 2014, and we were thrilled to be able to show them first hand how much progress has been made over the past 3 years. A huge thanks to Nicole and Sandor for taking the time to come to the studio, and to everyone at Leopardess for your continued support for the women of Sainte Luce!
We're just finishing off plans for one of our newest projects, which will provide Manambaro hospital's patients and staff with dignified, hygienic toilets to replace the current damaged and inadequate ones. We're going to construct an 8-cubicle latrine block for patients and two flushing toilets with a septic tank for staff, and repair a broken and leaking septic tank in the hospital compound. We're hoping to start construction in the new year - dependent on the rainy season, of course!
Obviously as a Madagascar-based charity we own a number of lemur suits, but we're not entirely sure why the London team keep wearing them in the office. We're hiring, by the way! madagascar.co.uk/jobs
(Thanks to Ali Sainsbury for the kind donation!)
Spot the chameleon! A common misconception about chameleons is that they change their colour to match the background - in fact, it's mostly for social displays and to regulate their temperature. But starting out the same colour as plants or the ground is still pretty useful for avoiding predators!
This juvenile warty chameleon was found just outside our conservation campsite. Once he's a bit older he'll develop a blue hue and, during the breeding season, a vibrant red head!
Have you heard about the bodybuilder of the bug world? Neither had we until now! Seven new species of katydid were recently discovered in Madagascar, with scientists shocked at their giant "biceps" and aggressive behaviour. Uncommonly among insects, these giant bugs seem to be monogamous and were found cuddled up in pairs. Cute!
Turtle nesting season is upon us! Our conservation team are launching a brand new research project, looking at the numbers of loggerhead turtles nesting in Sainte Luce and the survival rates of their hatchlings. This research will help us conserve the species in the future by working with the local community to protect nest sites!
Meet Peros and Kajy-Oline! Between them they've just sold four litres of organic, fresh-press honey, pollinated with flowers from lychee trees, for over twice the price they would have received this time last year! Before Project Renitantely, Peros and Kajy-Olines' entire families were living on less than $0.25 a day – that's well below the World Bank's poverty line of $1.90.
Thanks to the bees, this is changing, and we're going to make sure that the price of honey and wax continues to increase for southeast Madagascar's beekeepers so that they can keep their kids in school, feed their families well and keep doing so for as long as the bees are buzzing. We'd like to thank the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation for helping to make these achievements possible!
Some fun new research from Oxford Brookes University answering the question we were all wondering about - why do lemurs eat less fruit than other primates?
Fish vs forests? Marine conservation is booming in Madagascar, but some conservationists are worried that the forests are being left behind. Here in the southeast, coastal communities are also heavily reliant on the forest and live closely with both marine and terrestrial ecosystems - and the preservation of one allows for the continued survival of the other. We're working with three communities to protect declining lobster stocks but are confident that our approaches to marine and terrestrial conservation go hand in hand together!
It’s been a busy week in Fort Dauphin as we've finished training 11 government health agents for Project Votsira! They'll be teaching the Child Health Course which aims to tackle the three most common childhood illnesses; malaria, respiratory infections and diarrhoea; by improving knowledge of the causes, symptoms and treatments. As pillars of the community, the government health agents are well placed to support mothers and elders. Over the next 2 months they will be delivering the first round of the course to over 500 participants!
A community in which there is no School, no Teachers, and no education: SEED Madagascar team has educated the children from Mananara II (Commune of Mahatalaky) in WASH (Washing hand, using latrines, drinking safe clean water).
Another one down! 5 rainwater harvesting systems installed at 5 homes across 3 communities so far. Uptake may be slow, but these systems aren't free: in fact, they are really expensive for people living in the villages.
But why is a charity charging people for clean water? If we don't charge people to cover some of the costs, they won't feel the ownership and responsibility that they need to care for that system and to provide clean water for years to come.
What's more is that the closer the price people are willing to pay is to the actual real costs, the closer the project gets to becoming a viable, and ultimately sustainable, business opportunity!
We would like to thank the Travers Cox Charitable Foundation for their continued support of Tatirano.
Sadly not many of these survive as far as Fort Dauphin - but we love them anyway!
Recruitment for the child health phase of Project Votsira finished recently with a brilliant response for the local community! In total, 274 mothers with 336 children under 5, plus 263 community elders, have been recruited to take part in the first round of focus groups, household visits and educational sessions for Votsira.
The project aims to improve the health and nutrition of children in Fort Dauphin and we are currently in the process of training local government health agents in preparation for the project launch at the end of October!
Obviously we're number one.
Team Safidy have been busy developing their lessons on sexual health and reproductive rights, ready for their national debut in the new year! Yesterday they held a workshop with the Ministry of Education in Tana to finalise their structure, take on feedback and ensure that the lessons are meeting government priorities.