Visiting

Visited the church school, primary and high school, and the hospital, which includes a “leper colony”. The school is the first and only private school in Morondava, which is the center for the region. It had a third of its buildings destroyed by arson a couple of years ago, and then last year another building was destroyed by a cyclone. They are serving about 150 primary students and another 150 high school. The rooms are small, ie crowded but from the lessons I saw on the board they are learning well. There is plenty of room to build but like everything in Madagascar, the local money is doing well to keep things going.

The hospital began as government camp for lepers. They finally asked the church to take over the work, and the Norwegian missionaries picked it up. Then they found that the local people wanted to see the doctors also. So it grew. Eventually they moved the hospital to town while maintaining the leper facilities and serving them as well. Now the practice for lepers is to treat them, maybe for 3 months to 6 and then they are no longer contagious and send them home. A few have no place to go and others have lost fingers and feet. These few they continue to provide housing for and some care. Those at the hospital assist in gardening to provide some income for the patients and food for the facility.

The leper facilities are old and need some upkeep. The hospital maintains the buildings as well as it can, but there is not much they can afford, especially since they changes in procedures mean there are not as many people present as there were in the past. They have a simple museum room, with pictures from the past. Noteworthy is the cyclone a couple of years ago. The grounds were waist deep! The patients were moved to a 2nd story room and hoped the build would remain standing. It did although there is water damage visible upstairs.
Afternoon we visited a rice growing school. It serves all of the south. The students live together in dormitories and learn by doing. The school has the fields, the spades etc, and the cattle that are needed. The school runs for 10 months and then they go home to put into practice what they have learned. Both men and women attend.

We visited a “toby”. This is a mental health clinic focussing on both mental problems and demonic possession. It is run by what we would call deacons/deaconesses. They accept anyone, without charge. If they can get medicine they are happy to cure people with it, but they also deal with the reality of evil and demonic possession. They train deacons/deaconesses there also, where the pastors provide 2 years of training. It would be good to get a psychiatrist to visit and see how he/they could assist them. They are open to that.
Then we did some tourist things. We visited the “alley of baobabs”, a double string of 8 or more tall trees with huge trunks. We tested one and decided it would take 5 men to hold hands around it. This is considered one of the world treasures by the UN. So I got to do a real tourist thing while here in Madagascar. Isn't the Lord wonderful?!

We also visited the ocean just at sundown. Put my hand in the water and got some pictures of a sunset on the beach (the sun was going down “into” Africa!”. A large crowd was watching a sand soccer match. I saw an add for a beach celebration next monday. The feature was a sand soccer contest (not sand volleyball!).

This evening was dinner with the family of the man who has brought me down here. The district president and I (he has been with me all day) were the guests. We ate outside in a small gazebo. I am treated only too well. They have appreciated me here very much and take good care of me. I had prawns and chicken with potato salad and rice with greens. Wow.

They all claim I speak Malagasy very well, but I know better. Still I am learning some and also understanding how to understand even when I don't get everything.