Marine's first impressions of Djangoa
My journey began the 15th, leaving Nottingham at 13:35 with a 5 hour coach to Heathrow, and despite arriving almost 4 hours before my flight a long and busy queue at check in and security I had to run to my gate! The flight was surprisingly short and my 4 hour stop over in Addis Ababa passed relatively quickly... Lea and I managed to recognise each other in the queue for boarding and so talked about exchanging the Italian books in Nosy Be. I had a long nap on the flight to Nosy Be and when arriving passed quickly through visa control and customs... to be greeted by Geneviève who was waiting for me!! We finally had met after a failed attempt on my part to go to Zurich when she had come in March (snow storms in the U.K. cancelled my flight!!) but I felt like I had known her already for a long time! And finally I had arrived in Madagascar (on the 16th in mid afternoon... a long journey!!)
When we arrived at the hotel I was greeted by Sarah and Dominic who were waiting for me... my own welcome party! Lucky me! We spent the rest of the weekend getting a bit of well deserved rest and recharging for the week ahead.
Finally at 5:50 on Monday morning we departed for Djangoa... my stomach was bubbling with excitement for the discoveries that laid ahead, I had been anticipating this moment for months! After a bus, a beautiful boat ride through the islands, we arrived in Ankify and sped off towards Djangoa with our driver Hans, with a pit stop in Ambanja for some errands. Hans pointed out his plot of land a dozen kilometres from Djangoa, and even grabbed us four cocoa pods from his cocoa trees and gave them to us... a good prémonition of the kindness of Malagasy people.
We arrived in Djangoa and my eyes were wide with wonder and excitement at the village I would spend the next month and a half in... already I had fallen in love with it’s plentiful fruit trees, it’s modest but homely houses, and the friendly atmosphere. Discovering my room, so much more luxurious that I had imagined, with a toilet, a comfy bed and almost a walk in closet!
Lunch already was delicious... Valentine was an excellent cook! And soon we set off to discover the library and start the individual reading support with the 5ème classe. The short trip there was riddled with greetings to Malagasy people (Mbala Tsara!) and big smiles already!
It was amazing to finally see the school and library after seeing so many photos, I felt like I was coming home! Sarah and Domi explained the whole functioning of the library, the rules they had set out, and I observed them.
At first it was more difficult than I had anticipated in that many of the kids had a lot of trouble understanding French, and while helping them read it was quite complicated to explain what ‘aller’ for example, means! But armed with a lot of patience and going very ‘mora mora’ (slowly in Malagasy) we went through the book together.
At dinner time I was feeling quite nauseous, unfortunately a common side effect of anti-malarials is nausea, and mealtimes were always a bit difficult for me! I knew I had to feed myself to have energy and the food was really delicious (courtesy of our lovely Valentine!) but I felt sick after a few bites!
On Tuesday I started my first whole day! How exciting! Sarah and Domi managed (somehow?!?) to convince me to run in the morning (at 5:50am!), and so we set off as the roosters were crowing (probably the only reason I was awake at 5am!), Lisa and I ran together but my ankle injury began to hurt again and so after maybe 3km I had to give up! Regardless, Lisa and I continued walking together, she showed me the different plants in Djangoa, like acacia and coffee.
We had a (cold! No warm water here!) shower and a delicious breakfast (whilst learning the names of the fruits in Malagasy) and we headed to school and opened the library with Storya. We began by reading a Malagasy and French bilingual book ‘Tita et les livres’ to the 1ère classe - I was impressed with how amazing Storya was at doing the translation and making the kids involved with questions! We continued with quiet reading time, allowing the kids to discover the books in the library by themselves.
We had lunch and a little nap and started we did class preparation for the afternoon, thinking of how to structure the afternoon classes, applying that again to the 3ème and 5ème classes later.
After a delicious dinner of tuna caught in the ocean a few kilometres away, I was exhausted from the long day, and fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow!
I hope you enjoyed reading about my first impressions of Djangoa! See you soon! June 20, Marine