Madagascar… Something Truly Special
Eden Reforestation Projects has been preparing to start its newest project in Haiti—restoring mangrove forests. In preparation, Eden sent Haiti Director, Craig Erickson, and International Coordinator, Sehr Ali, to Madagascar where planting mangroves has been a great success. On the trip, Craig learned how to start and manage mangrove planting sites.
With Sehr’s words describing her experience and pictures taken along the way, we hope to help you envision the beautiful people of Madagascar and the restoration that is occurring through your support.
After several long flights and layovers, we finally arrived in Antananarivo, Madagascar. My first impression of this striking country was from an airplane window, and it was not what I was expecting. I expected to see a green canopy of tree cover rather than the dusty, brown land below me. As we made our way to Mahajanga the next morning, a major port city in the northwest, we continued to see large swaths of dry barren land dotted with small mud and brick homes along the way. This was not the Madagascar from the movies!
We spent the first days of our trip meeting and getting to know our field leaders, Josy and Paquarette, and some of Eden’s Malagasy staff before heading out to visit one of Eden’s first ever planting sites in the remote village of Mahabana.
To get to Mahabana, Eden’s first site, we travelled by boat down the Mozambique Channel for 6 hours in the beating sun. Tired and sunburnt, we arrived to a sight that instantly took away all the fatigue we had been feeling. As we pulled up, the sight of laughing children running towards us on the beach, the sound of the adults singing and all the friendly faces that surrounded us simply took our breath away.
What touched us most was knowing that the realities and challenges that these same villagers had endured not that long ago had not dampened their spirit or their vivaciousness for life. At each village site we visited over two weeks, we were met with the same laughter, hospitality and energy. They were proud and excited to show us the forests they had planted, they talked to us about their lives before Eden and how their children are now in school getting educated.
They showed us everything they could think of, from braiding my hair to look like theirs, to applying a clay mixture on my face to protect it from the harsh sun. They showed us how they collect, plant and protect their forests and the different risks they face everyday. Along with healthy reforested areas, they showed us deforested areas recently destroyed by charcoal producers.
They guided us through deep, thick mud and dense forests to show us how, as Eden employees, they had drastically changed their environment over the last several years. But mostly, they showed us the pride they have for their country, their work and their home. They showed us the love they have for their forests and the commitment they share for a better life and a better future for their kids.
By the time we left Madagascar, we knew that this far away country and its people were something truly special…
Sehr Ali, International Coordinator