Four years ago, three members of our team: Iain Tait, Rob Tuer and myself, visited Ambato Boeni, Madagascar to get an understanding of the environment to which we were committing to take a team of youth for an international development project. We wanted to ensure that we would be comfortable taking responsibility for someone else's children in this remote location. I must say that we were impressed, amazed and shocked all at the same time.
Shocked at the conditions in which some of the locals live. There truly are grass huts on the flood plain of the Betsiboka River that are obviously swept away each year to be rebuilt after the rainy season subsides. Shocked at the disparity between conditions of the homes. Some youth are walking around with cell phones while others don't even have electricity for light at night. Shocked that the community, like too many in this world, is forgotten by all except those who call it home.
On the other hand, we were amazed at the effort the priest at the local Catholic church was putting forth to build a school, library and a computer lab for the youth in his parish. The gentleman obviously had a vision that would help provide opportunities for a better life. We were amazed that bottled water was readily available for our use. Amazed at the reception that we received by all we met.
When we arrived, we found a community that had until that time been forgotten by the rest of the world. Now, Madagascar 2012 is working to make sure that this never happens again. From what I have seen in the Contingent going to Madagascar, I know that this project will be a success. What I know from the trip to Ambato Boeni in 2008 is that we could not ask for a stronger partnership.