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So, I’ve been here for just over two weeks living and working at the children’s home Akany Avoko about an hour north of Antananarivo the capital city. Tana is crowded and noisy like big cities everywhere, Ambohidratrimo is as built up as I ever need, there’s a bakery that does great bread, I know the best places to get local street food and there’s even a pizza lace that does fabulous pizza!
Mostly I’ve been working, for the last few days I’ve been in a 4×4 with a bunch of malagasy scouts driving around the routes the UK scouts will take when they arrive. We found a few problems that even a 4×4 can’t deal with …… But the roads for the routes are good and the welcome in the villages was also great. Scouts seem well respected here and everyone we met was happy to accommodate them and very interested in the whole expedition.
I’ve also been working on the project. The building at ambohidratrimo (the new toilet) will begin as soon as the funds are available to the engineer (that should happen tomorrow) and I’ve been working with the charity Ankizy Gasy to find some exciting projects in local schools. Again people seem more than happy to welcome us and to try to help us to communicate with them. I do wish people would stop talking to me in French though! I now understand more malagasy than I do French!
Security is an issue, it’s a poor country with a poorly funded police service. One of the Akany volunteers had her passport stolen in Tana in an area notorious for pick pockets who target locals as well as foreigners. It was in her bag not a money belt. I have yet to feel threatened and I do tend to be very alert to that kind of risk. In general the ordinary malagasy people are keen to help you to keep safe.
I’m really looking forward to seeing the UK scouts experience the country, I expect they will thoroughly enjoy their time here. Tomorrow I’m off to Tana for a meeting with the malagasy ‘core team’ and on Saturday I will travel to Tana to arrive there by 6am so that I can hike back here with the expedition participants. We will be staying overnight at the school the expedition will use for their first night in Madagascar and will be spending time learning about each others language, culture and scouting style in preparation for the arrival of the UK scouts. Should be fun!