So Ariane and I have one day left here in Andavadoaka, I can’t really believe it. Time here is a bizarre phenomenon, it goes quickly but you feel like you have been here for ages!
We have experienced so much here, we have travelled by all means imaginable, listened to incredible life stories, seen medicine practiced with few resources, played volleyball, learned about fish, seen baobabs, produced and participated in a play and last of all, experienced life as it is in the rural depths of Madagascar. All this has been so much more than I ever expected from my medical elective.
The play we produced was part of a research project that we ran alongside the FISA project within BV. We were looking at the barriers to young women in accessing the clinic with the aim of facilitating greater awareness of the options available to them. It was decided that one of the best ways to educate this group would be through theatre, and even more appealing, would be drama performed by Vazaha (us)! After meeting the Nahooda’s (a ceremony with village elders to introduce ourselves and gain permission to stay in the village), where we attracted quite a crowd I had no doubts that the advice would be wrong!
So, after setting up focus groups and identifying issues that the younger population had preventing them from accessing FISA, Ariane and I set about producing a short play. We were so pleased when the new expedition volunteers were all really enthusiastic to get involved. We decided to base the play on a young couple who had been advised by their parents, who had struggled to feed their many children, to be careful and wait until they are ready before starting a family. We basically mimicked the walk from the village to the clinic in Andava, with the couple encountering various people and their concerns and thoughts about FISA along the way. The couple maintained an optimistic and open view point the whole time, finishing the play with a consultation with Fanja, the clinic co-ordinator. All volunteers and many of the staff each had a part to play and after a few rehearsals and attempts at speaking some Malagasy lines we performed on Saturday afternoon. We had put posters up in the village advertising the play for 3 pm, although we were well advised that we should expect to wait at least half an hour before the village would wake up from their ‘siestas’ and make their way!
Oh boy were they right, we ended up waiting until around 4.45 pm! Can you ever imagine having to wait for the audience back at home! It was so amusing and truly epitomises the Malagasy way of life. There is no need for speed or worry, they just do things when they do, when they feel like it… why not hey! Never the less the play was great and everyone involved was fantastic, so big thankyou’s all round!
My time here has been so different from any other travelling experience I have had so far. I feel incredibly privileged to have had the opportunity to not only observe the Vezo Malagasy way of life, but live it. I never imagined seeing and doing so much here, least of all directing a play!