Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Campaign kick-off

The campaign kick-off ceremony was held in the town of Fianarantosa, about 7 hours south of Antananarivo on a paved but extremely winding road, so we headed down Sunday afternoon. I didn't think I was prone to motion sickness, but quickly found that not keeping my eyes focused firmly on the horizon left me feeling rather green! It was beautiful though, as the road essentially winds along the spine of the country in the highlands. This scene not too far outside Tana reminded us of the danger of not driving very carefully! At least there are plenty of people to try to pull you out!

The Malagasy are skilled rice farmers, and we drove past miles and miles of rice paddies.

This house is fairly typical of the architecture in the highlands - two story, brick, with a balcony, and either thatched or tiled roof. They are very charming!

The kick-off, bright and early on Monday morning. I traveled with Luciano Tuseo, the WHO Malaria Technical Advisor, with whom I had worked on my previous trips, and he was delightful to travel with - his native language is Italian and mine is English, so we compromised and spoke in semi-fluent French. Here we are sitting at the kick-off.

The president of Madagascar was among many of the dignitaries present - here he is addressing the crowd. He has a very casual, off-hand manner that all the Malagasy seemed to love. While introducing one of the UNICEF good will ambassadors, South African singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka, he told her to "do something." (sing)

Admiral Tim Zienmer, the co-ordinator of the President's Malaria Initiative (USA), was there as well - here he is with some kids after the kick-off.

to Madagascar for the Measles Malaria Campaign

I went to Madagascar from October 15-November 2 to be an external observer/monitor for the Measles Malaria Campaign. The goal was to give an insecticide treated bednet, measles vaccination, worm medicine, and vitamin A to every child under 5 years. It lasted October 22-30, so I went a few days early to get myself situated and have some meetings.

I stayed in the same hotel as usual - Hotel Colbert - here's the view out my window. As I've said before, Tana looks so different from most African capitals. It almost seems Italian.
There are lots of winding roads, and the traditional highland Malagasy style is 2 stories - this home in Antananarivo is fairly typical.There are also numerous sets of stairs in town so pedestrians can avoid the switchbacks - driving anywhere in Tana takes so much longer than you might think, with the narrow winding streets compounded by horrendous traffic. The view below, looking down one set of stairs and up another, is frequently painted. October is spring in Antananarivo, and the jacaranda trees are in full bloom - the lake ringed by purple trees is just beautiful. When you walk below them, the nectar drips on your head!I love African inventiveness. When the cell phone came, people saw all sorts of creative ways to use it that we never came up with. In this case, it provides a career. All you need is a cell phone, a table, and an umbrella, and you are a phone booth! Although many people have their own cell phones, they are still a little too pricey for some, and so these brightly colored 'phone booths' charge by the call. The price listed on the signs below, 300 Ar, is equal to 15 cents. And what would Tana be without entirely too much incredible food? After a meeting about post-campaign evaluation with Canadian Red Cross, we headed to my favorite restaurant, Kudeta. Below are Adam, of CRC, a random Australian student we met up with, and Frazier, of CIDA (like USAID, only Canadian).