Behind The Scenes
Our Adventure In Madagascar That Turned Into The Start Of A Mobile Library
On 11, Feb 2015 | In Behind The Scenes | By Shana
Our adventure started as a vacation in Madagascar, but since I am a filmmaker no vacation is complete without all the kit a.k.a. — not really a vacation. One of the original reasons I wanted to venture there was to document the endemic species, 90% of which are only found in Madagascar. I went there infatuated with the lemurs and lizards, but ended up falling in love with the people on quite an unexpected level. With the guidance of our passionate 12 year veteran tour guide, Jean-Jacques, we ventured beyond typical designated tourist zones, visited schools and spoke intimately with villagers. We were shocked to find out that over 80% of Malagasy people live on $1.25 or less a day, and suffer some of the highest rates of illiteracy (65%; 2010).
“Literacy unlocks the door to learning throughout life, is essential to development and health, and opens the way for democratic participation and active citizenship.” – Kofi Annan, former United Nations Secretary-General
From this experience we are now in editing for a short doc series about our journey in Madagascar. We have also followed up with a new path to empower Malagasy people using a mobile library system in partnership with NGO Zara Aina and our beloved Malagasy friend Jean-Jacques!
Why Mobile Libraries?
Have you ever heard of William Kamkwamba, the boy from Malawi who harnessed the wind? He and his family endured intense poverty and hunger until he found an unexpected solution. Using library books, at the age of 14, he built a windmill to power his family’s home from makeshift scraps. Research has shown that literacy and education are directly linked to a better quality of life. Madagascar ranks 155 out of 187 in the 2014 Human Development Index, making it one of the most impoverished countries. Several areas of Madagascar are also isolated and have no access to books. Mobile libraries can be utilized to empower and improve Malagasy lives.
The traveling Madagascar Library program supports the establishment of libraries as engines of development, social change and empowerment. Education is a powerful tool, and provides opportunities that can improve the quality of life. We provide topical and relevant educational materials such as books, literacy materials, work with existing schools and provide mentoring. This multifaceted approach provides opportunities to improve literacy, community health, develop sustainable livelihoods and environmental conservation.