Heads up – on my WWF page, my video is now available! It’s a little fuzzy, which is sort of unfortunate, but you get the idea. And the music in the background is the village of Tsaratanana, whom I recorded singing while I was there one night. Neat, eh?
So. Vicky asked me about the actual results of the work we did in and around Vondrozo. The “Management of the Vondrozo Forest Corridor” project is scheduled to continue for a few more years, so the work is ongoing for the WWf agents there. Our impact was sort of instantaneous, in a way, because the villagers are always excited to see foreigners working in their villages, so many of them are likely to show up for any awareness-raising and projects that we’re involved in. The household survey that we conducted, for example, was really successful because people were really keen to have us visit their homes and talk with them. That data, we analyzed in a big fat report that the WWF will use to determine what sort of help the people around the corridor want most. There have already been training sessions on new rice cultivation techniques (SRI, for example) and agricultural methods to maximize harvest of manioc, coffee, and some other key crops. So the report is most of a long-term contribution, I guess. I’m really interested to hear about it, of course, so I’m hoping to get my hands on reports over the next year and onwards, to see if I can spot any links to our work.
Regarding the language barrier, there were definitely some funny moments. The trickiest part, for me at least, was trying to remember which words are used for dogs and which for humans. This may sound a bit odd, but being called a dog (or treated like a dog) is an enormous insult, and though they usually give vazahas a bit of wiggle room with respect to the cultural taboos and stuff, I still always felt like an idiot. For example, the verb “to go”. Sometimes they say “aller”, like in French, but sometimes it’s “mandeha”, the Malgache word. And even now, I forget which is appropriate for humans and which is for dogs. Ugh, how embarrassing. Also, if you’re motioning someone to “come here”, in Canada you sort of wave your hand toward yourself, with yout palm facing yourself. In Madagascar, no. That’s for dogs. You have to stretch your hand out, palm facing the person, and kind of grab the air, as if you’re grabbing them to pull them toward you. (If this doesn’t make sense, I’ll demonstrate in person next time we see each other.) Whenever I made one of these errors, the kids would laugh at me, and the WWF agents would have to remind me of the difference. Sigh.
Here are links to some kilalaky music videos:
Vicky also asked me when I’m planning on going back to Madagascar, because it must be hard for me to stay away! This girl knows me. Of course I’m already working on my next project, and I’ll tell you all about it as soon as it’s a little more solid : )