Project
Madagascar

Education is the key to development for a better life!

The story continues in 2008

Part I: 

 

Well I’m back again and it is already 2008.  It has been some time since my last report but I’ve been writing nothing else the last couple of weeks.  After Christmas and New Years life started again on the seventh of January I descended to Tana for two different missions.  First of all I needed to go to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, department emigration and immigration, to see why there is still nothing happening regarding my visa since I handed in my dossier end of October.  All official communication here in Madagascar is in French but just to be on the save side I to with me a member of the Rotary in Antsirabe who is now a judge but who was the former police commissioner in Tana.  This helped a lot, not for arranging the visa in a corrupt way but just explaining the situation and pulling strings on how to speed up the whole procedure.  A photocopy that I could have never obtained but what he got without a problem was a paper that was send to the regional office here in Antsirabe with all the signatures approving that my visa request was accepted but that there was just one document missing.  This paper was send as a radio message mid November to the police headquarters in Antsirabe and they bring it in person to the responsible person here.  Then I should get a letter or phone call from them requesting the final document.  Of course that did not happen and I was left in the dark about the formalities.  So having this piece of paper I went to the responsible person here and requested (politely) a extension of my provisional visa, which was given but only one month, until 14-02-2008, because it was not their problem (No point in arguing because you loose automatically).  So with the help of my mom I got the papers necessary to request in Holland a “proof of good conduct”.  I had everything singed here in school and e-mailed it back to mom who handed it in.  Then she called to have it processed with priority.  This worked and on the First of February I was able to hand it in at the Ministry.  Thinking that this would be the end of everything and that I would receive my visa directly is another dream since they love bureaucracy here.  With the proof of good conduct the file was complete and I would get around the 15th of February a notification to pass.  There I did not want to be illegally in Madagascar I passed by on the last day of my temporary visa to check on the procedures and their status.  I think you can already guess what is going to follow next.  The file was complete and approved already on the 7th of February, but nothing had been send (with the request you hand in two envelopes stamped and addressed to you so they don’t make any costs).  So I entered the office waited for 45 min to be addressed and helped (this was quit fast), I’m ready to hand in my passport for a stamp but I get a form with which I need to go back to Antsirabe and pay two different amounts.  One is to the public revenue department in Antsirabe (75’000 Ar = 30 €) and the other to the national public revenue department (228.67 €).  With the proof that I paid the two amounts I have to go back and then after about one week I have my visa and after two to three weeks my residents permit.  Both my visa and permit have validity until the 23rd of September 2008 because I started the procedure on the 23rd of September 2007.  This whole procedure I have to restart three month before it expires, so I’m already looking forward to this.  In total it has cost me 360 €.  There is one advantage that I received in this whole procedure and it changed my life considerably, but I’m holding up the show.  As of St Valentines I have become a missionary working in Madagascar.  Becoming a missionary saved me 30 €, so I accepted this honour.  They came up with this thought when they saw the letter and passport copy of the cardinal who is the initiator of l’ESSVA, and therefore wrote a letter that I as volunteer are lodged by them.  So as of St Valentines I can say that officially now I can be called Brother Charlie.

 

Secondly I had Karen, member of the Foundation (Fondation Avenir Madagascar) and Katherina a student from EHL come over for a working mission.  I picked them up from the airport, and it was great to see Karen again and meet Katherina for the first time.  We immediately had lots of fun and laughs, because we knew what lye ahead of us concerning the work to be done for l’ESSVA.  To get them off on a good start and to forget the long and tiring flight I offered them, as a standard welcome in Madagascar, a glass of THB.  In Hawaii they give you the flower necklace and her it’s a THB.  Karen did not really look forward to this trip knowing what had to be done and not being able to enjoy the stay, also for her it was holiday time in EHL, but none the less she packed her bags and came over.  When she came here and unpacked her bag contained some goodies for me that even after a month I still enjoy.  There where two bottles of wine, a dried sausage and five different cheeses eg gruyere, comtee, camembert de chèvre and others, what a feast.  During the 10 days that she stayed we arranged to complete all her tasks and even with some of the preparation that I did before her arrival ensure two days of vacation for her.  One day I took them out to the “relais des vulcanes” for lunch and a nice little stroll on a Sunday which was automatically a day of and the other two days were just here in Antsirabe but a lot of fun.  The evenings we had so much fun the three of us, meaning that we prepared some snacks for dinner since lunch was quit filling and did a lot of cheesy things.  Several nights we had 80-ties revivals, we all told embarrassing and funny stories from the past, went to bed late and woke up early, so in the end I needed a day or two to revive.  During the time that Karen was here we received an e-mail from the IECD informing us that there might be a potential candidate in Madagascar, who followed her studies in France, who might be interested in a job as a teacher for l’ESSVA.  When it was time for Karen to leave we brought her back to Tana and organised with the candidate an interview.  She turned out to be a real potential and therefore I invited her to come to Antsirabe and have a look and feel of the school.  After she spend the night at the hotel with her family she informed me the next day to be interested and so I organised for her too have the school call her for an offer.  One week later she accepted and will start with us as of the 26 of February. 

 

The month of January has been a very busy one.  While arranging my visa problems on the 7th of that month in Tana I also had a drink with a Dutch girl who works for UNICEF.  I met her in Antsirabe when she was there on vacation with her brother.  On a terrace they were reading a NRC Next and a Volkskrant (Dutch newspapers) and therefore I directly new that they had to be Dutch and I posed them a question on passing them if it would be possible for them to leave the newspapers at the reception for me to be able to pick them up the next day.  Indeed they left them and she added a note that if ever in Tana and desperately in need of speaking Dutch to give her a call, and that she was working for UNICEF.  Being in Tana for two nights waiting for Karen and Katherina flight to arrive I thought it time to give her a call.  During our little rendezvous we talked about a lot of things and also her project with UNICEF.  The project is about the youth of Madagascar and the other islands in the Indian Ocean.  It lets the youth talk there are no adults interfering in the program and it poses questions about their daily life what they are missing and what needs to be done to give them a better life.  There and then I proposed to her to come and shoot some footage at l’ESSVA and talk to my children who follow an education in the Hotel business.  Our ideology is to provide education to children who do not have the means to pay a proper education but who will need to pay a little sum to make the effort.  She liked the idea but could not decide on her own and would come back to me to fix the details.  On Saturday the 25th a group of three passed and filmed the students working (preparing their lunch) and had interviews with them.  Later this year they are going to emit it on the local television.  I will get all the footage but I “can’t” show it since it is all in Malagasy.  It is filmed especially for them.

 

I was glad that during the month of January I had Katherina here with me in the school.  During the time that I was working on all the reporting necessary for the French embassy she took over the formation of one of the teachers.  This really helped me a lot because otherwise I would “not” have survived the workload at that moment.  I know that some people are embarrassed to ask me to do more and more stuff over here but if I don’t try to do it nobody does it.  Beside that it takes of some of the workload its of course nice to have someone working with you trying to get the job done. 

 

February will go into history as the month of writing nothing else than reports and going over all the accounting figures of 2007 to ensure next years financial sponsoring.  Furthermore I have done something that can only be here in Madagascar where the people adore status.  Nobody likes to pay taxes but here I’ve seen and done something out of the ordinary.  As far as I can recall you write to the director of the public revenue office if you do not want to pay and you give reason for not paying.  Here in Madagascar I had to write a letter to the director to ask his permission to pay my road taxes for the car.  If I did note write this note I would not be able to pay, normally you would say well then I don’t pay but I needed that piece of paper to be able to get my half yearly vehicle control for road safety. 

 

Some things completely different:

 

Today wile trying to write my monthly report Antsirabe is hid by a cyclone, so there are tons of water coming down and almost every hour the power company has a power out due to illegal consumption of the citizens.  So trying to finish these last words of my story I do it with the light emitted by the computer screen because there is again a power out. 

 

Postal services in Madagascar are terrible. They are not able to manage a constant service level so parcels and letter do not arrive in time, but on the other hand they deliver old fashioned service as in the old days.  I received a letter from France posted her in Madagascar with as address Charles Eschauzier, ESSVA, Antsirabe.  Like as we could in the old days before the introduction of the zip-code.

 

On a personal note:

 

I0m doing fine and am in good health looking forward to the new teacher that is coming so that there is a little less workload.

 

On the 17th of March I will become the second Dutch member of the Rotary club in Antsirabe.

 

I have been nominated by the Fondation Avenir Madagascar as their official representative on location for the time being.

 

Received my first pay check from the French Embassy and l’ESSVA.

 

Going to move to my new apartment in a week (if all goes well with the renovation)

 be no more friend helping friends and that both parties get paid by the NGO who is paying for all.

 

A+, till next time, tot snel

Charlie

 

Part II:

 

Again it has been a long time since my last update but I have been very busy here with 3 members of the Fondation Avenir Madagascar who stayed all together 6 weeks.  This meant for me being everybody at the same time (chauffeur, hotel manager, representative on location, chef de filière, consultant and many more).  Therefore I had no time to write, unless if I would have given up the little sleeping time that there was per day.  Towards the end it became clear that I had done too much with too little rest.  I had problems for three days concerning my health and what can be described as a general fatigue.  My muscles were sore my intestines protested and the fever took me down.  Now that I’m back in shape, I’m going to update my website for my friends and family who are (hopefully) anxious to hear from me. 

 

I moved into my new apartment and that really gives me the opportunity to live a normal balanced life.  I have a sitting room, dining room, study, bedroom, bathroom and kitchen.  All separate spaces so I can finally invite people more easily, without having everything in one space without separation.  I’m not a student anymore so I appreciate the luxury.  The only thing I have to get used to is the colour of the dining room/study which is mint green (I will get used to it).

 

During February we had our midterm exams and before that a week given by the students for their revision.  The exams are generally well made with an average of a 6,5 or 11 (depends on country of residence).  After the exams of course the entire student body complained about the difficulty of the questions and the grading (It brought back some memories from my own experiences).  There was only one downside during all the exams and that is that one of the students cheated.  The cheating came to my attention by an anonymous letter with a separate testimonial of 8 students who explain how she did it.  I checked on the authentication of the testimonial and also from outside the school it was confirmed.  Just before the issue would be judged by the disciplinary committee this same girl committed an attempted theft of school property and this gave me just one possible solution.  I, in close collaboration with the disciplinary committee had to expel her from school for the rest of the year.  This means that she has automatically failed the second year.  If she would like to precede her education in the field of hospitality she has to redo the second year completely.  We had to take this severe measure because there have been several thefts within our department (school and even from guests) and every time she was in the vicinity (it started already in the first year).  Also several students testified that they have seen materiel from school at her room here in Antsirabe.  I hope she will come to her senses and rethink her actions, but we have a fear that the origin is kleptomaniac and that she has to find the solution in a treatment. 

 

As school we had are 7th graduation ceremony and we as experts in catering organised the cocktail that followed.  I took this opportunity to change from the ordinary and together with the chef we created 7 amuse bouches that until now had not yet been served.  In the beginning the administration was sceptic because they were afraid that 7 pieces per person would not be enough.  I tried to explain to them that this amount meant that every 6 min you had an amuse bouche who passed and beside that there where bowls of mixed nuts and dried fruit in the room.  They kept insisting on a change and I had to say to them it’s this or you have to find somebody else.  Of course they could not pass it on to someone else since it would be a promotional aspect for the school as well.  In the end I asked them if it was enough and they told me that it was even too much.  For the next promotion there is still a lot to learn for the administration.  Organising an event is not at all easy, but I think they understood that now.  But I will keep you up to date towards the end of the year when we will have out 8th graduation ceremony.

 

Just before Easter I had my mama and sister over for a short 10 day vacation.  It was very nice to have them here and this made it possible for me to show them around and clarify my reasons for prolonging my stay.  In ten days you can’t really discover Madagascar but you can feel its power to explore and live its life.  Also during there stay I was inaugurated in the Rotary.  For this evening we created a Dutch buffet (brought by the family) what was adored by all the Rotarians.  In the beginning we where a bit sceptical if the taste of the real Dutch cheese, the smoked eel and some other real original treats would suit them, but everything was finished before I could even taste some of these traditional items (so I have to come to Holland to taste them).  After this event I arranged a chauffeur and car to go for a four day trip towards the south.  This was a magnificent experience and we have seen a lot.  From the local arts and crafts to the flora and fauna that Madagascar has to offer.  One of the best items of the trip is the train ride down from the highlands to the beach.  The scenery that presents itself is astonishing, but you have to be patient.  We departed with a 6 hour delay and the trip took 8 to 9 hours.  The delay was a petty because the last hour of the trip was made in the dark; this means that you loose some of the magnificent views. I would have liked to see by daylight the crossing of the airfield of Manakara, its hard to imagine the NS crossing the “Buitenveldert baan” or on of the other runways of Schiphol.  I can only tell you that if ever you have the time it is worth wile to take a vacation in Madagascar.  The pictures can be seen with them because I don’t have the copies yet and can’t put them on the site.  Now I just have to wait for the next to come to explore another part of the Island. 

 

During the week that Clara was here together with the Pierre (Vice president) from the Foundation they decided together with the others who are in Switzerland that I will be, until further notice, the official representative for the Foundation in Madagascar.  This means that there are more things for me to do and more people to coach.  I accepted the responsibility with honour and gratefulness to them and thanking them for their confidence in me.  Below you can see what will keep me busy:

 

REPRESENTANT DE LA FONDATION AVENIR MADAGASCAR

à Antsirabe

 

Tâches

 

Tâches principales

 

  • Assurer le suivi des projets de la Fondation Avenir Madagascar : ESSVA et Radio Haja
  • Se mettre à disposition de Sœur Nella en cas de demande dans le projet Prison
  • Informer régulièrement  la fondation sur les problèmes et le développement des projets
  • Assurer le suivi de la demande d’accord de siège pour  la Fondation Avenir  
  • Madagascar

 

Tâches spécifiques

 

ESSVA

 

  • Conseil d’administration

-          Participe aux séances du conseil d’administration en tant qu’observateur

-          Vérifie la bonne utilisation des fonds à disposition

-          S’informe sur les initiatives et les résultats de la recherche de sponsors et donateurs

-          Assure le suivi des dossiers de construction EM

  • Ecole

-          Planifie des entretiens réguliers avec le recteur

-          En collaboration avec le recteur assure un suivi du bon fonctionnement de

l’école, s’informe sur les problèmes et conseille pour des solutions 

-          Planifie des entretiens réguliers avec les responsables pour la tenue des

comptes et des budgets, ainsi que pour les ressources humaines

-          Contrôle les investissements (bien fondé, comptes, devis, contrats éventuels)

-          Informe régulièrement la FAM sur les dossiers en cours

-          Encourage d’autres partenariats avec des institutions à Madagascar et à l’étranger.

 

Radio Haja

 

  • Conseil d’administration

-          Participe aux séances du conseil d’administration en tant qu’observateur

-          Planifie des entretiens réguliers avec les responsables pour la tenue des

comptes et des budgets, ainsi que pour les ressources humaines

  • Radio

-          Planifie des entretiens réguliers avec le directeur

-          Informe régulièrement la FAM sur les dossiers en cours

-          Encourage la recherche de sponsors et de collaboration  avec d’autres radios à Madagascar et à l’étranger

 

Relations avec la FAM

 

  • Rapporte régulièrement au président de la FAM sur ses activités et ses constats
  • Donne au bureau de la FAM son préavis sur les demandes d’aide financière et de
  • matériel pour les investissements et le fonctionnement des projets.

 

Now that I have to ensure all the above tasks I need someone who can help me with some of the administrative workload.  Together with Clara and the principal we have decided that Claudia (our new prof) will take this responsibility.  This means that I have to guide and help her to get around in the paperwork presented by the school.  Without this help it would not be possible to assure all the new developments and general coaching necessary for ESSVA.  Another positive thing with having Claudia beside me is that I now also have ears that I can trust who can translate the Malagasy for me.  This is especially handy since there are some people here that act like the chef but are not.  It is already clear that these persons talk behind my back and try to make life difficult.  The problem is that this does not affect me personally but it gives a wrong image for the school.  This is also a point for next year to change the image created by several persons that are or were related to ESSVA.  When we make the changes in 2008-2009 it will be another bumpy year but from there forward we can and we will make the difference.

 

If all goes well, ESSVA and my department in particular will start just before I come to Holland for a short vacation between the 22nd of May and the 2nd of June with the construction of a second building that will comprise 3 more hotel rooms and a conference room.  This will mean that we can receive groups up to 13 people.  If we can assure a similar standard for the new rooms I think we can expect a “booming” business.  The word of mouth is working for the hotel, but for the restaurant its not as it should be but I just have to wait for the negative publisher to leave the Island (if all is well understood this will be very soon).  From then onward I/we can start to “aggressively” promote our restaurant.  Thinking that I would have an easy winter (summer) here in Madagascar is now filled with the surveillance of the construction site and trying to find all the furniture that goes into rooms.  Because of a rumour that is going around saying that during the first week of October the French ambassador will come to inaugurate the second building I have to make sure that it is finished by then.  So I have to adjust my planning that during August and September I go around the Island to visit all the interns and keep an eye on our new hotel under construction.

 

Taking everything into account it has been a very busy period for me.  Six weeks of working together with members of the Foundation takes up a lot of energy.  But we managed to get our points across foe the mayor changes that need to take place.  One of them is that ESSVA needs to realise that we the Foundation can not continue like this.  We are too small to keep producing up to € 60’000 a year to make sure that the school is running properly.  There are too many expenses that are put on the budget with the remark that the Foundation will pay for it.  Some so not all of the expenses can be eliminated by good leadership and that, we hope will be done by the new principal during his first official term being 2008-2009.

 

Part III:

 

Since my last report a lot of things have happened here in Madagascar and I will try to give all of you a small impression.  

 

As written in before I took a small vacation and returned to Holland to see family and friends (original plan).  Just before my departure, I was gently forced (look at this expression very positive) to pay a visit to Paris and meet the team there that I’m working with (IECD).  We tried to fix a rendezvous on my day of arrival because I had time to spare between touchdown and departure TGV (4.5 hours).  Unfortunately the director of the program wasn’t available at that time.  So I only met with Justine who is my account manager and during our lunch she insisted to return to Paris at a later moment.  We then decided that during my time in Holland I would look into this and come back to her with an answer.  After a couple of e-mails we came to an agreement and therefore my holiday plans changed a little bit.  I will insert a table with my schedule:

 

Date

What

Location

Date

What

Location

22-05-2008

Travel

Madagascar

30-05-2008

Vacation

Holland

23-05-2008

Vacation

Holland

31-05-2008

Vacation

Holland

24-05-2008

Vacation

Holland

01-06-2008

Travel

France

25-05-2008

Vacation

Holland

02-06-2008

Meeting

Paris

26-05-2008

Vacation

Holland

03-06-2008

Meeting

Lausanne

27-05-2008

Vacation

Holland

04-06-2008

Vacation

Vevey

28-05-2008

Vacation

Holland

05-06-2008

Travel

Paris

29-05-2008

Vacation

Holland

06-06-2008

Travel

Madagascar

 

As you can see my time in Europe was not just vacation, but I had a marvellous time seeing my Family and Friends.  Also the change of surrounding was good, especially driving a car on a real highway.  That is one of the things that I miss here.  You can’t really get anywhere quick; all the roads here are like Suisse mountain roads with a lot of sharp turns and potholes or just a stretch of sand and rocks. For these last roads I can use my motorcycle and pass without much difficulty. I passed my exam for the motor without to much difficulty, but it takes three months to get your permit so I should have it any moment now.  Just to skip a couple of days I’m now the owner of a real Malagasy drivers licence.  I’m allowed to drive a motorbike and a car.  In some way the permit is quite advanced using a point system but I have not yet seen the impact of a ticket but there are 15 lines before you lose your permit.  So if you look at it in a positive way, we Vazah normally do not stop for a police control so I wonder if I will ever complete or start the penalty system.  The only moment I can start is when I have an accident and I hope that this will never happen. 

 

My return to ESSVA has not been a smooth ride.  When I left I had already foreseen some problems.  Sadly it turned out that I was right and that my choice for my replacement during absence would have a hard time.  It will stay an assumption on who is the person behind it but I have lost about 1’000’000 Ariary ( 400€ ).  The big question will rest unanswered if they wanted to get back at me or if they wanted to get at the person who I had put in charge during my absence to take a fall.  On my return all the invoices from the beginning of May where missing.  I know for sure that I left them in an envelope on my desk to be accounted for after my return, but when I came back they where gone.  The person in charge already notified me during my vacation that things had mysteriously gone missing which meant she could not do her work properly.  I can only say that this person has a strong personality and kept going never the less.  I had left her with 900’000 Ariary to do all the shopping necessary for school and for some unforeseen.  All has been accounted for.

 

I will now explain how I lost my money.  All the shopping is done by me or advanced by me.  So I spend my money to assure we can turn the school.  At the end of the month I have my account reimbursed by the IECD after presentation of all the invoices paid.  This way if there is a mistake or an invoice lost it is not the school that pays but me, therefore I can have no blame in misusing money confided to me and using it for my own benefit (I have already received the rumour that I steel money from the school for my well being. The person who spread this rumour is known by me).  So instead of letting the person in charge take the fall, which would have been the intention, they assured that I have lost money.  So I have not lost confidence in my choice of replacement but only more so in other people working “together” with me.  This is just a minor setback but I’m stronger and much more stubborn then they think.  Luckily there are also things that have a positive impact and give a reason to stay.

 

Just before I left for Europe we signed the contract for the construction of the second hotel part.  This construction will contain three rooms and a conference room……….

 

This I a small update but the rest will follow soon

 

Part IV:

The construction of the extension of the hotel is well on its way.  The original planning is respected with a couple of days delay due to small changes to improve the practicality of the building.  The small changes concerned most of the time the orientation of toilets, plumbing but nothing major.

 

As of the 11th of August I have the pleasure to work together with Elise Boharoine on the construction site.  She enjoyed an education in the construction of buildings and will work with the IECD in Fianarantsoa as of mid September.  To start her working experience in Madagascar the IECD proposed (after deliberation with me) that she would begin at ESSVA for a couple of reasons:

1)     It would be a nice and easy way to get acquainted with the way of work here on a Malagasy building site ( in comparison to French sites),

2)     She could replace me for the period of my absence of 8 days during which I visited some of the students on their internship addresses,

3)     Have an expert opinion on the work delivered by the construction company.

 

Elise will send on a regular basis a technical report to the FAM and IECD.  This was something I couldn’t do since I have no competence in this particular field.  All my comments have been more regarding the aesthetics and the information retrieved by talking to different persons who are around to check on the Electro Mechanics building.  I can say that Elise is a wonderful helping hand in assuring the construction.  It was not only me who was glad with her but all the responsible people for the constructions were delighted with her expert opinion on different aspects. 

 

Elise could not stay until the planned date due to the fact that the Districts officer here in Antsirabe couldn’t perform the visa application since all her papers were signed for Fianarantsoa.  We planned to do go there for two days and make all the arrangements but in the end her project there got a head start and they said if you come down for your papers you might as well stay directly to start working here.  So she left and was grateful for the time that she was in Antsirabe and the way I made her comfortable with procedures in Madagascar.

 

During the presence of Elise I took the pleasure of going on a road trip towards Tuléar and visit the interns that work in the different hotels.  During my absence she was here to ensure the supervision of the building site of the new hotel. 

I left on the 17th to Fianarantsoa where I stayed two nights and visited the interns.  The two hotels (Zoom Hotel and Tsara Guesthouse) where very pleased the work done by the interns and there is certainly a possibility to place more next year.  From there I went further south towards my initial second stop at Ihosy but from there it is only 91km to the next city where we have an intern.  Beside the short distance I had also still 3 hours of daylight and thought better use it now then loose a day.  Upon arriving in Ranohira I went directly to the hotel Relais de la Reine to see the intern and his GM.  The GM was on vacation but his direct supervisor was there and content about our student.  Although they have a gentlemen’s agreement with the INTH in Tana we might be able to continue placing students there and this is what I have to establish (project 2008-2009).  I did not take the opportunity to stay an extra day here and enjoy the national park.  I thought it important to see all the interns and make sure that there where no problems. 

The following day (Wednesday) I arrived in Tuléar where I had a small and simple room organised by my friend Rahoul.  The next morning I took up the road to Ifaty, one of the two villages around Tuléar where you find beautiful hotels and nice beaches.  The road that links Tuléar and Ifaty is really terrible, it is only 25km but by car it takes about 1h30.  On my motor I was a little bit quicker but I was exhausted in the end due to the large sand parts (which is difficult to drive in if not really experienced).  Another mishap was that it demanded too much of some of the motorcycle parts and it was not possible to return.  The next day someone would take the 4x4 to Tuléar and I could put the bike in the trunk.  I was offered a room in the hotel of one of my interns and I was free to use anything available.  The talks that I had with the owner were very productive and I felt as an old friend that was invited by them.  I went on foot to the other hotel with interns to check on them and there also I was welcomed with open arms.  The GM there has been a teacher in a French hotel school and was pleased about our program and even proposed some sort of partnership between our school and there hotel (I have to look into that, because it can be very interesting). 

The next day I brought my bike to a repair shop to assure that my return journey would go without problems.  I used this time (24 hours) to relax a bit in Tuléar and have a day of vacation.  On Sunday morning I decided to return to Antsirabe and pick up where I left and see how Elise had experienced the first week alone.  This time I did the journey in two days but that takes its revenge on your buttocks.  The first day I did 470km in seven hours with lunch break.  I spend a night in Ambalavao because it is here that the road changes from straight to curved.  After a good night sleep and a healthy breakfast I continued the next morning to do the last 300km until arriving safely home.  After about a two hour drive and a distance of 110km I was surprised by a young zebu that jumped right in front of me.  I was coming out of a turn and could do nothing, since I did not see it coming and therefore not able to anticipate.  I run into him at a speed of about 60km/h and made a nice flip, it could have been a circus act.  Luckily I was not injured and could continue my way to Antsirabe.  The drive was not as easy as before because my bike had more injuries than me.  The handlebar was deformed, on the left it was still a crossbike but on the right it had turned into a chopper model.  I was very glad that at the moment when I bought the bike that I immediately also bought a jacket with protection on back, shoulders and elbows together with a new helmed.  After two days I saw two nice black and blues on knee and buttocks.  After a good nights sleep I also had some muscle sores due to the tension I had at the moment of impact.  So to continue my save driving policy I need to buy a new helmed the next time that I’m in Tana. 

 

Now that I’m back I start slowly with the preparations of the new school year and solve some little problems that occur with the interns around the island.  The school can be glad that every time when I need to contact a hotel because there are some small things that give problems, we get a positive response because we take pride and responsibility in our work.  Until now there has not been one hotel that has refused interns for the future.  So we are growing in visibility and quality, and with that there is another small development that needs looking into and perhaps we need to try to increase the number of participants.  The GM of the Maison de Retrait in Antsirabe proposed to me to the idea of making a contract with one or two students to pay for the school and have them work one or two years in his hotel to repay the debt.  If we could find more big hotels that would be prepared to make this kind of contract, this means that students are assured of a job when they terminate their school. 

 

I also had a visit from the owner of CMC Madagascar, a business that looks for interim personnel for the hotel industry, who was interested in our students.  He told me that on a more and more regular basis there are demands from hotels to send someone to replace people on sick leave or for temporary extra helping hands.  They have their own pool of people who work for them. 

 

We have established a contact with a Belgian ONG who is called Ex-change and who is active in searching and dispatching experts on whatever subject you can think of.  I came into contact with them during my visit at the Dutch consulate.  In short what they do is make a match between our needs and a large database with people who would like to share their knowledge.  We write a demand for any of our filières with a specific subject that we like to have an intervention in and Ex-change will search the relative person.  They will pay the flight and we have to provide lodging and food.  Alain and I have been thinking about their intervention, and for the moment the idea is January, March and May.  And if is going to work for next year we can see if we expand or if we quit.

 

ESSVA News

 

After deliberation with the rector, CA and EHL we came to the decision to terminate the contract with two of our professors.  During last year the relationship had not been smoothly and on several occasions there had been a conflict of authority.  The most important reason to not continue with them finds its origin in the economical survival of the school.  Every responsible in the school had to present a budget concerning the staff – student ratio and at the moment their salaries were too high and with the actual student numbers we could no longer afford them.  After explaining the situation to them they accepted our proposition with the side note that if needed we could contact them.  We also suggested to them that they could continue to give some courses but as a professor paid by the hour.  It might be too soon to start worrying about what happened two weeks later but they have asked to see the calculations made for the new budget.  Perhaps they were to flabbergasted when we told them that the contract would be terminated that it did not stick, but I offered them the calculation at that point in time.  I don’t think it is going to give problems however I’m weary that it might come.

 

Luckily we have been able to find other teachers to fill in for them but not on the same basis and with a different program.  On the 18th of September, together with Theodora, a graduate student from Lausanne, we will start their formation in the specific fields of their new jobs.  Theodora will be responsible for the academic side of the school and where necessary we will work together on that.  And if all goes well there will be a replacement for Theodora who will start somewhere during February 2009.  With these two people being there permanently it will give me assurance that all the theoretical material is of high standard French and I get more time to focus on the general development of ESSVA. 

 

As of end of September the school will be completely surrounded by a wall that has been paid for by a donation from a Belgium ONG.  This way we can assure our security better then before and start to construct a proper image for the school.  We can now begin to enforce a stricter discipline for students and professors (because we can close the entrance when classes start).

 

This is all for now and I will keep you updated if there are new and interesting development here in Madagascar.

 

 

 A+, till next time, tot snel

Charlie