Salamah, Tompo

June 24, 2009 at 7:48 am 3 comments

A quick update, as they all are until we get a steady source of internet access (thanks to Sam &

Violette for again lending us their modem!).

We’re still waiting for the laptops to get out of customs. I don’t want to conmment on the politics of

the matter (oh, there are politics), but long story short, we’re expected to pay about 13,000,000 Ariary

(~$6500) to get the laptops out of customs. We’re waiting for news because some more papers were

submitted. Independence Day is the 26 June (Friday), and we’ve been warned by both locals and the

US Embassy to stay out of Tana (or, really, any crowded area) because of the political turmoil.*

*A quick primer, if you have missed the Malagasy news: in February, Rajoelina, a young

former-DJ-turned-mayor, decided he wanted to be president. Ravolomanana, the democratically

elected president, protested. Rajoelina managed to rally supporters, including, eventually, the army.

Ravolomanana escaped to Swaziland. The Constitutional Court pronounced Rajoelina’s transititional

government valid until elections, which, last I heard, are planned for October 2010. The international

community calls this a coup, and the AU and SADC have expelled Mada, and most governments

have cut off aid funding, which is a huge blow to many people. The power change, as far as African

power changes go, was very peaceful, but unfortunately there were still 100 people killed over two

months. There are still occassionally demonstrations in Tana, but they are peaceful and limited in

scale and scope. There are rumors that Ravolomana will return this weekend, but that seems unlikely.

We’re very safe in Ambatoharanana; we’re about 2.5 hours from Tana, and national politics are less

impactful on this scale. While everyone certianly has opinions on the politics, there aren’t

demonstrations or unrest out here.

So that’s politics. Because of all this, we still don’t have the XOs. We’ve been able to show the Lova

Soa teachers our personal XOs, and pass it around with any visitors we get, but that’s about it. When

we were passing around an XO at a teacher reception on Thursday, one of the teachers had opened

Write and written us a message:
“thank you for coming to ambatoharanana. we are very happy to have you.”

As usual, Record was a favorite of all the teachers, where they took many pictures of themselves (and us).

We were also able to go down to Lova Soa and play with the kids. This has two purposes: one, it’s

fun, and two, it gets them accustomed to us. We taught them the Hokey Pokey,

Head-Shoulders-Knees-and-Toes, and any songs we could remember from our summer camp days.

The kids there are young – 5-8 is the age range we’ll be working with there. We’re also planning, but

may or may not be able to, work with another school. More on that as the situation becomes clearer.

So our plan for the week, since the XOs are in customs until, at the very soonest, next Monday, is to

continue working on community outreach. That’s a fancy way of saying, “accept every invitation that

people present us with.” We’ve been to a variety show, community center, church, chapel services

(we live on the campus of an Anglican seminary), stores, the outdoor market…you get the picture. We

want the community to get used to us, and to understand our mission here. That’s more daunting

than it sounds, considering we speak about 7 words of Malagasy, and there aren’t many people who

speak English. There’s some French, and I speak some French; we also have friends who speak

English and Malagasy, so they’ve been a godsend.

Much of our days are planning and making meals. Rice is the staple; Malagasy eat it at every meal. We’re not quite ready for breakfast rice. Still, though, we eat it twice a day, and it takes about 30-40 minutes to cook each time. We also have to boil water for everything from drinking to sanitizing dishes to brushing our teeth. We have a nice gas stovetop but it’s pretty time-consuming. We’ll get used to it!

Here’s our Malagasy progress:
salamah (sah-lah-mah) – hello
tompo (toomp-koo) – sir/ma’am (an honorific – “salamah, tompo” is common)
azafady (ahz-ah-fah-dee) – please
misoatra (mee-sew-tra) – thank you
madrapaona (mah-drah-pea-own-a) – good-bye (in the see-you-later sense)
velomah (vay-loom-ah) – good-bye (in the good-night sense)

-Kate (with help from Mary)


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Madagascary, the Early Days Teacher Training Begins

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Susie Buckwald  |  June 24, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    Kate & Mary,
    Thanks for the update. Had no idea the Xo’s were stuck in customs. Certainly sounds like you are having quite an experience.
    The rice diet and boiling water sounds like “Survivor!”
    …and the malagasy language?????
    Have fun and stay safe.
    Susie Buckwald

  • 2. Rita  |  June 27, 2009 at 4:45 am

    This sounds so exciting/overwhelming where are you getting your protein? Fish, fishing, this is an island?

    Other things…but I’m sure if you had five minutes to string together you’d write on many fascinating topics. So I hope that happens.

    Wishing you all the best,

  • 3. Stella  |  July 1, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    Hi, Kate!

    How did Independence Day celebrations/protests turn out? I’m sure you’re thankful for your French right now in order to facilitate some kind of communication. What kinds of things did you see at the variety show? What are your accommodations like? (And to add another, less important, question to what is fast becoming a list of questions, what kinds of things are served with the rice? Is everything savory?) I hope you can get over the shock of my proper capitalization; wishing you the best & hope for another update soon!



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This is the OLPCorps team from GWU and UMD. We'll be deploying 100 laptops to a rural village in Madagascar this summer. Stay updated by subscribing to our feed and checking back regularly. For more information on what we're doing, use the tabs above!
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