A Dream Comes to Life
The Nosy Be Disability Centre Dream began in 2016, when Nathan Stapley came to Nosy Be for the very first time, as a volunteer. He is originally from the UK and is a trained disabilities teacher. When he first came here he was struck by the lack of accommodation for and adaptation to people with disabilities. What he found was that life in Madagascar and definitely here on the islands of Nosy Be and Nosy Komba is not adapted to people with disabilities. For example roads, pathways and buildings are generally not accessible for people in wheelchair. And as there are no medical or educational facilities for people with disabilities on the island, entire families are affected by this issue. Mainly mothers and siblings are burdened with the constant care for their disabled children or siblings. Therefor, they cannot go to work or school, which marginalizes these families and pushes them further into poverty.
During his stay Nathan soon made friends with some locals and got to talking about the issues he saw. One of them was Gisèle’s grandson. Gisèle is a retired senior researcher at CNRO. Generous and loving as she is, Gisèle invited Nathan over to her place. There, Nathan’s concern with the disabled children on Nosy Be came up in the conversation. Gisèle told him that she has seen how it weighs on the children, their parents and siblings as she herself has a child with disabilities in her extended family. She shares Nathan’s concern with the lack of infrastructure for the disabled on the island. So, the seed for the project was planted within them both in her living room.
Upon return, Nathan took action in establishing Sunrise Madagascar as a local NGO which focusses its actions and investments in giving opportunities for people with disabilities on Nosy Be. They also got Lalaine abroad. Lalaine is native Malagasy just like Gisèle, is fluent in English and has experience in working with both international volunteers and people with disabilities. While Nathan was busy fundraising for their project in the UK, Gisèle had laid eyes on a building which could be reconverted into a disability centre near her former work place.
It is only later that MRCI got involved in the project. As local involvement is one of the pillars of our organisation, it was not hard to get everyone on board for this big adventure. With the collaboration, we are able to not only support Nathan’s and Gisèle’s dream, but also to improve it to reach more families. Instead of buying and reconverting the building Gisèle had recruited, MRCI offered to buy an 800 square meter plot of land in a far more accessible location and take charge in constructing a building completely adapted to people with disabilities. Think about slopes instead of steps, bigger door openings and sufficient space to move around with a wheelchair.
And this is where we are at now: MRCI has acquired the land and is currently sitting around the table with an architect specialized in designing healthcare facilities around the world.
Stay tuned for our next post to hear about Nathan’s and Gisèle’s story behind this beautiful initiative. Follow MRCI and Sunrise Madagascar to keep updated on their Nosy Be Disability Centre Dream!