with construction projects to improve the lives of the people living on the island.
Despite the incredibly rich plant and animal life, Madagascar is among the 10 poorest countries in the world, leaving its people with precious little to invest into the infrastructure of their villages.
To address some of these problems, MRCI has recently begun a construction partnership with a nearby village, Andrekareka Hely. The village is very isolated, only accessible by boat or by rough forest paths. There is an estimated population of 300 people, with another 200 living in the surrounding area. The primary means of employment are fishing, subsistence agriculture, and hammering granite by hand to sell as gravel.
Several initial meetings between ourselves and the President and Vice President of Andrekareka Hely took place in April 2016 to discuss community needs for construction projects. Earlier this month, a joint community meeting was held involving the residents of Andrekareka Hely and volunteers from MRCI, with the goal of establishing a list of community needs for construction projects. That list is as follows:
- Public Toilet Block- there are currently no toilets in Hely. Villagers use the surrounding area, contaminating the drinking water. A public toilet block would eliminate this problem and decrease incidences of diseases such as Typhoid Fever.
- Water Cistern- the current water situation in Hely is grim. During the rainy season, water is supplied through a simple system of pipes from a nearby waterfall. Unfortunately, this is insufficient to meet the needs of the village during the dry season. Consequently, for 6 months of the year, residents need to carry buckets of water from small streams or fill buckets in other villages several kilometres away.
- Trash Burning Pit/Dump Site- there is no infrastructure in place for proper trash disposal. Much of the trash currently ends up in the ocean, wreaking havoc on the local coral reef. Burning trash is not an ideal solution, but is still better than the existing options.
- Pharmacy Building- the nearest pharmacy is 5km away, via a rough hiking trail. The closest hospital is on an adjacent island. If residents of Hely are able to provide a pharmacy building, the government is obligated to supply medicine and a trained worker.
Volunteers have begun work on a public toilet block, the community’s first priority. A plan for the first toilet block and purchasing of the first round of materials began at the end of April. Residents of Hely have provided a construction plan and a foreman and are taking it in shifts to work with our team to provide the necessary labour.
With great support from our volunteers and all people back home, we have started fundraising for this project. To date, there have been 65 online donations totalling almost $4,000, with several donations from current and previous volunteers as well. Visit our GoFundMe page to donate. Two blocks of toilets are being built in Hely. They will each have two toilets with one washroom in between them.
There is still much work to be done but with a positive attitude and the hard working team of volunteers and members of the community, we believe to finish these blocks in a few weeks. We hope to continue the partnership that we have started with Andrekareka Hely and for our volunteers to participate in several community construction projects down the road.