CSM News – April 2011

Hey people! Very exciting news… I’m back in Madagascar! And we’re powering on as a team!

Lots of new people have been added to our mailing list, so for those who are new I’ll first let you know a little about Madagascar and what we’re doing at the moment and planning for the future.

Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world. 70% of the nation’s population live in absolute poverty and just 6% of teenagers finish school. Many people, both young and old, struggle to survive through the day. They live with poor dental and health care facilities and many can’t afford basic fruit and vegetables. The rural people develop bloated stomachs due to the malnutrition and life expectancy is a meagre 55 years.

I, Brendan, am 24 years old and have been going to Madagascar for 5 years. I see there is hope for the Malagasy people and have started this non-profit organisation called Chosen Servant Ministries (CSM) to come alongside them. I have a vision to assist and equip people in poverty stricken nations like Madagascar with the necessary resources, education and hands on support so that they will be able to care for their own people. CSM provides education to the people of Madagascar, teaching basic healthcare and nutrition regimes. Necessities we take for granted such as toothbrushes, medicinal supplies, soap, clothing and footwear are for distribution to dramatically change the lives of those in such desperate need. Our volunteers work alongside government councils, churches, or schools, building relationships with the local people, bringing practical support and western technology in culturally sensitive ways. Some of our current projects include building homes, orphanages, healthcare facilities, toilet blocks and centres that feed the poor with the aim of teaching them to ‘feed themselves’ and develop, prosper and become self-sustainable. My trip last year was shortened, due to a horrible bus accident that I was in where 5 people died and I sustained many injuries.

This tragedy postponed work that was planned to be done last year, but we have not given up!

We are so excited to have approximately 60 Australians and a few Americans planning to come and volunteer with us in Madagascar this year to continue the work.

Some projects for this trip in Madagascar include:

Building an orphanage/children’s home in Soavinandriana in central west Madagascar

Currently, in Soavinandriana, there are many children orphaned and living on the streets or wherever they can find a place to sleep. Some of them are staying at locals’ houses temporarily. During the day they search around the streets for food, some of them look after cows for money. Hundreds in this community are not attending school. I asked a boy who was looking after cows a few days ago, how old he was. He didn’t know. He’d never learnt how to read or write. He’d never been to school before. And he earns the equivalent of 15 cents a day.

We have started the foundations for a 10 by 15 metre building, and will be adding an outside shower, toilet, and clothes washing area, also a small garden and chicken coop. We are now organising all the necessary paperwork to have it in our name. We want to build a home for these children and provide parent figures for them. Thank you to the people of Toowoomba QLD for supporting this. It will impact many lives!

Building a medical centre in Vangaindrano in the south of Madagascar

There is a health crisis in Vangaindrano. The people there need lots of help! Many of the children have bloated stomachs, but very skinny arms and legs, due to malnutrition. The stats are high in this region for children dying before the age of 5 and its often a painful prolonged death as the children have little access to health care. By the time people are adults, they have many dental problems and no money to fix them. Its generally around $2.50 consultation fee to see the doctor, but the majority of people do not have that money, so put up with sicknesses. I remember seeing one man arguing with a lady about paying him the 5 cents she owed him!

We’ve been blessed with a square kilometre of land with a river running through it in this region. We are now organising all the necessary paperwork to have the land in our name. The plans for a 10 x 15 metre medical centre to be built on this land have been drawn up and are being submitted to council. Funds have been raised that are set aside to help fund the building. A huge thank you to the crew on the Central Coast, NSW, who’ve supported us in this!

The locals are enthusiastic to help construction with our western builders and learn new building methods. They look forward to taking these labouring skills into their own communities. We aim to have 2 shipping containers of medical supplies and other donated goods sent over from Australia to equip our medical centre and temporary village health clinics. CSM also has a licence to purchase cheap medical supplies in Madagascar. Our hope is that the most remote and poor will be able to access free medical and dental care from these centres on allotted dates each month from registered doctors and dentists who will be helping.

I’m sure we’ll do a lot more on this land too, there’s enough space for it!

Building staff accommodation, a pig pen, chicken coop, and a farm in Mahajanga, west Madagascar

Mahajanga has many problems including broken families and absent fathers, poor living conditions, financial barriers to accessing education, witchcraft leading to poor health practices, poor knowledge on basic hygiene and sanitation. In this region we have a family focused program for mothers and children to ensure families not only have shelter but sustainable supplies by building them a vegetable patch, chicken coop, a well and ensure funds are available for their children to attend school

We look after our staff and volunteers well. Building staff accommodation in this area is important. This project will provide jobs and also help us be more self sufficient.

We’ve got lots of projects for the future. These are just some of the things we are doing for now.

Man! We are so pumped for the volunteers coming. They will be using their trades and skills to help the many needy people. Our volunteers this year include horticulturists, doctors, nurses, physios, builders, farmers, chefs, hairdressers, administrators, teachers, jewellery/accessory makers, plumbers, singers, dancers, photographers and other beautiful people who have a heart to help.

Its been busy times since I’ve returned to Madagascar… we’ve had a CSM staff meeting all together and are preparing the many things for our projects and approaching volunteers, we’re organising accommodation for staff and volunteers to stay near our projects around the country and even found a good T-shirt maker/printer and are getting some CSM t-shirts made!

If you’d like to come we’re keen to have you! Return flights on Air Austral to Madagascar from Sydney via Reunion are AUD $1,288. Pray for us! Thanks so much for your support!

Brendan Singhdeo