Saturday, January 15, 2011

Why Madagascar?

You guys are so cool...I'm absolutely astounded by the support and encouragement you've given me. It's  all really happening!!! Thank you, really.

As I'm talking to more people about my upcoming trip and brainstorming fundraising ideas, one question that continues to come up is "Why Madagascar?" So here's a little more information on Madagascar and why my heartstrings have been tugged in this direction.

Malagasy children in a swarm of locusts.
Locusts attack crops, decreasing already unstable food supplies.
Hollywood has given Madagascar quite a bit of press but this seems to have focused on the beautiful and unique species that call this magnificent island home. While rich in biodiversity and natural beauty, the island is also home to extreme poverty and suffering. Much of mainland Africa has been the target of international support, yet Madagascar is often times overlooked.

Of a population of approximately 20 million people, 71% are living below the poverty line, meaning they are earning an income below the level which has been deemed necessary to achieve an adequate standard of living in that specific country. 75% of the population does not have access to clean drinking water and in rural areas, this figure can climb to as high as 96%. The infant mortality rate for Madagascar is a wretched 1 in 10. Take a moment and let that marinade.

Verreaux sifaka
(Propithecus verraeuxi)
(Tell ya when I get back)
Although home to grim poverty, Madagascar is also the place of beauty that it has been famed for. Having been separated from mainland Africa for more than 160 million years, the island has developed truly unique ecosystems. 80% of its species are found nowhere else on earth. The island is the natural home of lemurs and 2/3 of the world's chameleon species. The Rosy Periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus) is native to Madagascar and is used to treat childhood leukemia, testicular cancer, and Hodgkin's disease.
Rosy Periwinkle
(Cathatanthus roseus)

Unfortunately, Madagascar's natural habitats are being vigorously threatened. Having already lost 90% of its original forest cover makes the preservation of the remaining habitat crucial and the restoration of degraded areas vital to the future of this nation. Not only do the native species have an inherent right to exist and thrive, but the people of the island deserve to be healthy and reap the benefits of this bountiful land. Madagascar was once on a great path towards a sustainable future, but got turned around due to political unrest. In recent years, the government has been stable and now the country can again begin to focus on the state of its natural habitat and the well being of its people. I want to be a part of this.

We hear staggering facts such as these all the time and it is easy to feel helpless and overwhelmed. If you find yourself wanting to help this country in need but are not in a position to travel there yourself, you can still help. To travel to Madagascar with Azafady, I must raise a minimum donation of $3120 plus cover the costs of my flights and vaccinations. If you feel so inclined, you can make a donation using the link in the top right corner of this page. I promise to you that I will give 100% of myself every day to ensure that I do as much good as I possibly can and bring back plenty of memories to share with you.

Misaotra betsaka!! (Many thanks in Malagasy)

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