Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Throwing Panties?

When I first visited Madagascar 10 years ago, for a week of
View from our window
vacation while living in Zimbabwe, I was struck by two things: it's beauty...and it's poverty. Never had I seen so many poorly dressed, malnourished or laboring children as here. Today it does not seem that much has changed. Just below our apartment is a small 'slum'-kind of settlement: mud houses with metal sheet roofs held in place by old car tires, without electricity or running water. There are always at least twelve children of all ages cheerfully playing football with a ball made of rubbish. The children have no shoes and the little ones are butt naked, their moms unable to afford diapers. It does not seem to bother them, but it bothers me. When I first noticed it I was tempted to open my window and throw out some of our daughter's panties. She has so many...they have so little. After twelve years of working and living in developing countries I am still not used to this. And I never will. Of course I know that occasional handouts are not the solution.  
People will start thinking that all Vaza, slang for white folks, in Tana are potential panty-throwers...
I also know I can't is help everyone. Why is Madagascar so poor? This question does not have a simple answer. I found a link that explains some of the contributing factors quite well.

What can I do to help? I don't know yet. Development has to come from within. We as expats can only support (technically, financially, morally) processes that are initiated by the people from Madagascar. Unfortunately, many NGOs and projects have withdrawn since the 2009 crisis. I want to help but have not yet found my way around. Once I have, I'll be sure to let you know. Meanwhile I will have to control my panty-distributing urges...not easy.


  1. I was planning our trip to Mada in Oct and came across your blog which is wonderful. I added your blog to my list, and hope to read some more of your funny, cute, and poignant stories soon. Keep up the great writing and NGO work.

    Spencer (squong.blogspot.com)

  2. Hoi Suzanne, ach madagascar... tijdens de warmteleer lessen op de HTS zaten we in een collegezaal die aan de zijkant nog van die grote oude kaarten van de wereld had hangen. Tja ik en een medestudent zwijmelden weg bij die naam en die locatie... Ik ben er ondanks al mijn gereis nog steeds niet geweest. Even wennen na Belize denk ik, ze hebben er vast ook een Hash. Weet je dat ik e-mails krijg van de belize hashmaster? Vind ik wel grappig.. Als ik vanuit hier iets leuks kwa werk voorbij zie komen voor madagascar laat ik het je weten. Als consultant moet je altijd een beetje de mogelijke opdrachten in de gaten houden toch! Groetjes Margot