Madagascar, Africa

MAD02 - South Androy Development Project : Partnership Reports

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Report Date: October 31, 2018

Report from BHW Madagascar Partnership Facilitator


Key person:  Hanitra Andrianomanana 

Recent Events


This partnership has been operating for a number of years. It began in Antananarivo and then was shifted to Ambovombe almost three years ago. It shifted because OM realigned their local strategies for engagement towards the “least reached people” on earth.  

In total more than 125 people have been involved in Namana micro-finance programme and received loans. There has been an 85% repayment. The people in the city were not very willing to repay their loans and some ran off with the funds. Some did very well in their businesses but were unwilling to repay. A major reason for this was that OM was operating through local churches and the local churches did not fulfil their end of the deal in following up their people. 

This was also a major reason for shifting the programme to the south where the team was operating and they could manage the lending without an intermediary. This is proving to be a much better arrangement and the people here are repaying and doing a lot better. 

There are two types of loans:
1) A loan to commence a small business. Most of their key people have been able to access loans of this type 

2) Maize seeds for sowing; they have to return double the amount of seeds they received. 104 people received 4 kg of seed.  

I visited in October 2018 and travelled to four of the 27 villages that the team is working with. Each week the team members walk for up to 5 hours a day to visit villagers they are developing relationships with. They run bible studies for new Christians and share the Good News. Each Monday morning key people from the villages come for training and a meeting to encourage and develop them.  

The team runs sewing classes for women and over 50 have been trained. Some have set up little businesses to help their income but some of the men are not happy with this and try to take the money the women earn because the women belong to the men!

In Antananarivo there is a team that focuses on mobilizing people for missions, particularly to join the OM team. They also do the administration and ministry to the Muslim Comoro people living in the north of Madagascar and in addition have a team training churches about children’s ministry. This team will be coming to Ambavombe next year to do training.  

New Profiles

leads the teamHermanina leads the team in Ambavombe, she is 41 years old and not married. She has four sisters and five brothers. At school she completed grade 10. Herimanina learnt sewing skills and owns her own sewing machine. She had a successful business before joining the team and coming to live in Ambavombe. She became a Christian through listening to a radio programme and started attending a church and Bible School programmes on Saturday mornings. Through an OM outreach she wanted to join the team. One day she received a text from OM which said, “If you don’t go who will I send?” She started thinking I must go and joined the team. 

She started some Mission and Outreach training and became burdened about sharing the Gospel and making disciples. She then started some practical training in the South and eventually ended up where she is now. Herimanina leads the ministry to women. This involves leading the team and coordinating the outreach programme. She also teaches sewing classes three times a week. On Thursdays she leads a one-hour bible study with the ladies in the sewing class. Most of the ladies attending the classes are from a church. She spends time helping the women with marriage issues and they appreciate her help.

Herimanina would love to see local women becoming leaders and discipling others.


Two new team members joined the team a month ago. They are on site for a period to assess their suitability:
keen to join teamDina
Dina is 28 years old and has three brothers and two sisters. She was bought up in a Christian family and after going through some difficult times realized she needed God in her life. When she was 23 she became a Christian. She is currently in the last year of her nursing training.

Through an OM conference at her church she was inspired to join the team. She was encouraged to use her nursing skills and also become involved in evangelism.

After her first visit to the villages she was shocked by the malnutrition and child bride issue. Her heart was broken and it has challenged her to do something as God leads her. She is very thankful that she knows God and wants to help others.

One of her dreams for the future is to see others involved in sharing the Gospel and helping with the malnutrition and other needs in the villages.

keen to join teamEvah is 22 years old and has two sisters and one brother. When she was 10 years old she saw the Jesus film and someone shared with her how she could be born again. She was delighted to hear this and became a Christian. She went home and told her family that she had eternal life now. She liked attending church and this helped her a lot. 

Evah completes her nursing training this year. Through an OM conference at her church she was inspired to join the team.

After her visit to the villages she was reminded of Jesus' ministry on earth to the poor and knows God is wanting her to do the same. She was very challenged by the poverty in the villages. Many things broke her heart and made her feel very sad. She would love to see people having clean water and nutritious food and also recognises that there needs to be many changes in communal living, it is hurting a lot of vulnerable people.

Her dreams for the future are to become a missionary and a pastor. She has shared the Gospel with some people and loves those opportunities.


Personal Stories

The first story is of one family we met that gives an idea of the issues people face if they are willing to stand for a different, better way. 

different to everyone elseLarhiarivo is very different to everyone else in the community of over 1,000 people. He has only one wife, Velona. And they say they love each other and it’s going to stay that way. They have five children of their own and another seven from Larhiarivo’s brother who died. That is 14 people in the house, and the whole house if smaller than my bedroom! 

But that’s not the end of the story. In 1989 his parents moved to the current location and they had some animals and the land was OK. The rains came at the same time every year and life was not too bad. But in 2010 the drought came and since then the rains have been very inconsistent, this last season was a bad one and they are now suffering. The scavenge for food and drink ground water to survive. Yesterday their only meal was a meager amount of rice and the fruit of a cactus which thrives in this arid landscape. 

But that’s not all. About the time that they were married, his parents died. This is about 16 or 17 years ago. To pay for the funeral they lost everything. All their animals and lots of kidsanything that could be sold to pay for the funeral. Because of that Larhiarivo could not pay the dowry for his wife, one cow, US$200. He had nothing left. 

Since that time they have become followers of Jesus and lead a cell group in their village. Nine people have come to faith. Of their five children, the eldest two are girls, the eldest being 15. And now his in-laws are demanding a cow for each of the eldest children and they cannot pay. The in-laws have received payment of a cow from another man so he can marry the 15 year old and they are demanding to take the girl as it’s their right (girl in blue shirt). Because Larhiarivo did not pay the dowry!


child brideSinorie is 18 years old. Her mother was 15 when Sinorie was born. She has four sisters and four brothers. Her father’s third wife is younger than her. She grew up in one of the four villages we visited. 

Sinorie was a child bride at 14 years of age. When she got married her husband involved her in witchcraft. Sinorie suffered with demon possession and had many visions of demons in her head causing her to not see properly as they blurred her vision. Sometimes they struck her down and she would be thrown to the ground. She was very fearful and anxious and always had to have someone with her. 

One day the OM team visited her village and she heard a lady share her testimony. This was the first time she had heard about God. She wanted to know more about God and she became a Christian. When she told her husband she didn’t want to do witchcraft anymore he was very angry because he had given the witchdoctor a lot of money. Sinorie threw away her necklace from the witchdoctor. Her life changed completely and she had no more bad dreams tormenting her.

At first her husband was supportive but he became angry because she was spending too much time going to other villages sharing the Gospel. He said I married you to look after me. So he returned her to her parents. Her parents welcomed her home and were very thankful she was healed and not with her in-laws who had been persecuting her.

Sinorie stays in town with the OM team as she is doing an internship but makes regular visits back to her village. She loves reading her Bible. She has been doing sewing classes and would like to own her own sewing machine so she can have her own business.

Some of her dreams are to see her culture redeemed and changed. This would include the reduction of funeral costs – when a person dies the family has to sell everything to pay for it and feed the crowd. She wants to see child bride traditions stopped and that all children attend school. She is also concerned about the challenge of families that are too large, they become very poor and are marginalized.


young widowVorie Line is 45 years old and a widow with six children and three grandchildren. Her children don’t live with her. When her husband was very sick and their marriage was suffering they asked the pastor to visit them. Voire was encouraged by the pastor's visit and accepted Jesus as her Saviour. When her husband was dying he also became a Christian. She would have lost her children on the death of her husband but she decided to shift back to Ambovombe to live with her in-laws so she could be with her children. This is not a common thing to happen, in most cases she would not be allowed to do that. 

At church when the OM team was visiting they shared about sewing classes and the pastor suggested Vorie should attend. She is very thankful for this opportunity and can now make clothes. When she was doing the sewing classes the OM team took her to the villages when they were sharing the Gospel and leading cell groups. This burdened her with wanting to share the Gospel with the village people. 

Vorie has been discipled and received training from the church and the OM team. She has shared many times with people and seen many accept Jesus as Saviour. This is done in the cell groups. She is a gifted administrator and this is appreciated by the team.

Some of the challenges for her are the five hour return walk to the villages every week. It is not easy sharing the Gospel because the villages have never heard about it before. She struggles to see so much suffering in the villages and knows they are desperately poor and need food.

Vorie finds it hard living alone and struggling with enough money to survive. She is passionate about serving God and sharing the Gospel. She would like her own sewing machine so she can have her own business. Also she wants to learn more about leadership.


Partnership's Influence within the Community

This is a very difficult place to work in. There are many reasons for this but the team has identified three major ones:

a) The influence of NGOs: This area is regarded as the most difficult place in the country to achieve any form of development but many NGOs come, and go, having failed to leave anything. They do not stay long enough to understand the issues and around that they have caused a great deal of disappointment and dependency. In one case an NGO was “empowering women” by giving them a sheep or goat. The men took all the animals and sold them. 

The local people are very wary of outsiders. Even Malagasy people from the city are called foreigners. 

b) The poverty mindset: Education has no value at all and they have no idea that lack of it produces poverty. They have a fatalistic mindset which means they don’t care if the crop is eaten, they will not intervene. “There will be something left for us!”

Girls 15 years of age are desperate to have children. It is their only goal in life. They have no identity without one. At a prayer time, one girl was asked what she wanted prayer for. She wanted prayer for a job. When asked what she wanted to do it was to become a prostitute!

c) The way they treat women and children: Children are to each other as babies and then married in their early teens so the girls leave school very early. 

It is the norm for men to have multiple wives and many children. Women aged 22-24 will have five children and by that time the husband will have another 15 year old as a wife living in the same compound. The man contributes nothing to the wife or children, the wife has to forage to feed the kids. They have separate lives. If the wife doesn’t cope she will be sent away and the children kept by the man. If the husband dies, the children are taken by the husband’s family along with all the property and the wife is left penniless. 

Men cast women aside when they feel like it or if they decide they don’t want them anymore. The man will pick and choose which children he likes and discard the others.

In some places the girls are bought, sold and resold like cattle – at the cattle market. This could be children. Of course the “law” forbids such practices but no one dares enforce them. Children are not given birth certificates although cows have to have one!

The team has identified the issues and are willing to stay for the long term but still are not sure what the best strategies might be. Local churches are struggling with this as well. Without truly understanding the mind sets here, it is hard to know which steps to take and how confrontational to be. They have already been banned from working in one village because they became a threat to the local men by empowering women. 


Ideas for the Future

There is really only one item for BHW, Foundations for Farming, and I think this would be very strategic. I will talk to John Vlaming, BHW's agricultural director, about coming to do some training here. 


Current Issues and Challenges

The key issues for them are:

a) Finding more key leadership members for the team. They have good people, good servants but no one out on the ground who can take initiative. This would involve the team becoming more proactive. They have made many inroads but there is just no energy in the team to even follow up with who they have. 

b) Building stronger relationships with the people they already have in the communities. The team is not proactive or confident enough to do this. 

c) Hanitra is frustrated by the lack of initiative and carries a load she is not comfortable with. There are too many women in the team and not enough men. 

d) Since 2010 the climate has changed and there is serious drought in this area. The people in the villages are suffering immensely. Their farming practices are appalling and contributing to the issue. 


Prayer and Praise Points

1) That they have made significant inroads into 27 villages. This is a major cause for prayer but needs to be built on. 
2) That they would be able to recruit some new team members with leadership abilities.
3) For breakthroughs in the lives of many people so they see the folly of their culture and the way it damages people. 



This is a very disturbing culture and the team is struggling to know how to respond. They do not have enough leaders on the ground and Hanitra is struggling to cope and find the right people to lead the team. However, a bridgehead has been built and they have no intention of leaving. 

After the next payment in November 2018 they do not require further funding for the loan programme but are desperate for Foundations for Farming in the future and there may be a need for more funds if this kicks in well. Everyone we talked to is bereft of ideas about how to survive in this place now that the climate had changed and it is almost perennial drought.