torsdag 16. april 2009

Back to where I came from

We went to Vohipeno, we cut rice, we went to Farafangana, killed a turkey, went up the river in a lakana (boat made of a log), went back to Sab-Nam, had a great picnic with the English Club on Saturday, a hectic Sunday - last day in Ebenezera, our church, went to a scout meeting, then back to Ebenezera to the choir’s concert. After saying good bye to both people and working places we left. Left to the airport, left the country. Left France, left Holland and finally arrived in Norway, in Bergen.

It’s strange to be back. Strange to put Madagascar behind me and strange to feel how Norway is after being away for quite a long time. Afraid I will forget what I have experienced, to leave what I have accomplished behind. All the things I have learned, all the challenges I have had and everything I got from handling them. Will I be the same as I was when I left in October? Or will I be able to take with me all I have learned? I hope I will. I hope I can take all the good things from Madagascar, from me in Madagascar, with me here. When I’m at Hald, when I come home and in the time after when I don’t know what I will do with my life.
It has been the best time in my life and I have got so many good memories. I’ll definitely try to go back as soon as possible.

søndag 22. mars 2009


First, some news: after a meeting with both Ravalomanana and Rajoelina (Andry), and the leaders of the church, military etc, Rajoelina left the meeting when Ravalomanana declared that he would resign and give the power to some of the high military leaders. When these news spread to the soldiers standing out side the chaos begun. They support Rajoelina and did not agree with the new decision. They kidnapped three generals and two other members of the meeting and these three generals gave the power to Rajoelina later that evening. So now there’s a new president here who really shouldn’t be. France is now the only country still supporting Madagascar financially, except from private organizations, and also the only country who has agreed to Rajoelina as the new president. So now we’ll just have to see what’ll happen.

And then, to the headline - Saturday. It was a strange day. First, Friday night actually, Jens and I were invited to join the declaration of Rajoelina as the new president. I really wanted to go to see what would happen, but as it then would seem like we support him and we probably would have been filmed by the TV stations we decided that it would be better not to go. Bonde and Daniel however went there and were going to buy the ingredients for the Malagasy food we were going to have in the evening. We always cook Malagasy food on Saturday.
After kids’ English Club Luc, our good friend from English Club, joined us after playing volleyball. We invited him to join us for dinner in the afternoon. That he stayed for many hours didn’t really surprise us much but when I came home after going to the cyber café and the marked and was told that two of my students from CEG had been looking for me, wanting to take a picture, I was a bit amazed. They should come back at 14.00. I was also a bit sick, I still am, so the resting I needed didn’t really happen. When it was close to 14.00 I went out to look for the girls but I only saw a boy standing in the gate. 15 min later I went out again. Still only the boy there. As Jens had washed his clothes and it started to rain he went out to take them in. and when he came back he was not alone. The boy from the gate was with him, it was one of his students from Aka.Ma - the deaf school! Now it was not only Luc, and Thomas who also showed up, who were visiting, but a deaf guy as well. At least Jens was there and I could take a rest. Now I saw that my students had arrived - no time for rest. I went out and was not surprised to see “number 16”, Fabiola, who might be the student who likes me he most, was one of them. Unfortunately they don’t speak English very well and I of course don’t speak Malagasy very well. We took some pictures and I was tired and wanted them to go, even though it was really sweet of them to come visit. They asked it they could see the house and on our way in we met Jens and the deaf guy on their way to the marked. Luc had gone home and Thomas was on his way to the choir. I showed them to the living room where I played the guitar for them and taught Fabiola some chords. Luckily Jens came back, this time with a girl as well - the friend of the deaf guy, also deaf! Nor Bonde and Daniel were at home and we had to handle this on our own: four visitors who would stay for who knew how long. We started playing card game and this worked out really well and then Daniel and Bonde came back. My students fortunately had to go home right after and I finally got the tome to rest a bit. Jens’s party stayed for a while longer but eventually they went home as well.

For you international students this might sound quite ordinary and normal bur for us it was strange. We did not expect it. But was nice! The day really didn’t go as planned but hey, we’re in a new culture, isn’t this what we’re supposed to experience? It indeed was a strange day but a good one as well. Especially for Jens who got the good news that he and Øyvin, and Brigitte (ettåring), are going to Mahajanga to join the Shalom boat. Next week Arnhild and I will go to Antsirabe on Thursday/Friday and then we’ll go to Vohipeno to visit Preben (ettåring)! Some great least weeks lies ahead!

mandag 16. mars 2009

Close to the finish line

Wow - 28th of January: my last blog. I'm really sorry for those of you who have been interested in knowing how I'm doing!

The political situation is worse than ever and it seems like it will never end. We have been without work since my last blog, didn't get a proper infield and have just been stuck here doing basically nothing. But we're all fine and nothing bad has happened. i lost my wallet though, that was quite bad, but that's what happens when everybody tries to get out of the bus at the same time. I didn't get hurt or anything so it could've been much worse.
As me and Jens are in charge of the English Club we’re the ones with the most work. Therefore Arnhild and Øyvin went to Antsirabe to work with Birgitte, the ettåring, these last weeks. Jens and I might go there in a week or so, but who knows if the roads will be blocked or what. So for now we’re just staying here and I am enjoying the last weeks - my last chance to talk to people and appreciate this fantastic country before I go home.

I’m sorry this is quite short, but I’ll try to update soon, and then a bit longer. We’re still fine and I love it here!

onsdag 28. januar 2009

Snot, political crises and running time

Sneezing, snot, fever, coughing - the flue. Completely normal at least once during the Norwegian winter. And guess what? It exists in Madagascar as well. At least I was able to get it. Who thought of bringing warm clothes to Africa? Not me, for sure. So when the sun sets, or is just gone for the whole day because of the rain season, it gets cold. And then I get cold. And eventually I get sick as well. So after eating a lot of new food, been many dirty places and in a really different country than Norway the one thing that brings me down is the flue.
So here I am, with a regular illness, just like home.

And in the middle of this the government has gone crazy. The president decided to close the TV-station of the mayor, his biggest rival. This of course resulted in big demonstrations. When he then chose to also close his radio station things didn’t become better. So now there’s been a lot of protesting against the president and the town is not the safest place anymore. So it seems like I’ve chosen a good time to be sick, as we’re not able to go to work this week and are just staying in Sabotsy-Namehana. Here it’s safe. So except from little milk, oil and butter, as the president has got monopoly on these things and his warehouses have been robbed, we’re doing just fine. Relaxing and doing nothing. For the first time since I got home from Mahajanga I’ve actually cleaned my room properly: folded my clothes nicely and put them in my suitcase. Put up the mosquito net and made my room nice again. So being stuck here is not totally bad!

But I’m good. We’re good. Madagascar is wonderful and I’m starting to realize that this won’t last forever. Just as I was on my way to get here four moths ago, I’ll soon be on my way back home again. They say that the time is coming here in Africa, it’s not just passing by fast, like in the western world that we know. But I think the time is passing by pretty fast here as well. Sometimes even running. It seems like just a month ago Arnhild and I went to Mahajanga. And it seems like only a couple of days ago we were wondering about how it would be so start working again when we came back to Sab-Nam. And now January is closing up, we have only a couple of days left and then the boys will come back, Monica will come and infield will start. Hopefully, if things don’t get worse. With a packed program time is always running by. And our program is packet. So soon infield will be finished. Soon we’ll go to Antsirabe to join the missionaries’ meeting. Soon I’ll turn 20 and soon we’ll go home. And what then? May be then I’ll have the culture shock I never really got here, when I come back to Norway. Will much have changed? how much will I have changed? I don’t know.
It makes me think. Wonder. About the future. About all the things we experience. If everything will just pass by and be forgotten.

fredag 16. januar 2009

Start of a new year

Back to Sab-Nam. Two weeks has already past, quite quickly as well. Suddenly I’m in the middle of work everyday, planning, teaching, spending too many hours stuck in traffic jam.. The everyday life is back to normal but still things are changed. I have some new working places: Mondays I’m joining Arnhild at Faravohitra, a sort of girl’s prison for young girls who have committed minor crimes or are just being punished by their parents. It seems to be a quite sad place. Too many girls in a place with too little space. May be it is for them but for us, visiting them, it’s one of the best times during the week. These girls are so full of love and joy that it’s hard to understand what they possible could have done wrong.
The other new working place I have is Ilofav, the women center. My first day is on Monday and I’ll teach English there.

I got an e-mail. Asking me to write an article about being a disciple. My first thought was “Huh? I’m not a disciple, I’m just a volunteer worker or something…”. But then I started to think about what is written in the Bible. That we should trust in God and let Him use us the way He wants to. Let Him lead us. And I look at my life: I just finished high school. I play the guitar and sing, just not when people are listening, I have no experience in leadership when it comes to leading Christian meetings, preach, etc. then I look at my life here: I’m a teacher, an authority, and at CEG, only one of my working places, I’m in charge of 53 students. 53! And some of them are only a couple of years younger than me. I’m the leader of English Club, where I teach English worship songs, meaning that I have to both sing and play the guitar. In front of people. I’m also responsible for the Bible Study we have each week. I’m doing things I never would have thought that I could do. And I do it every day. New challenges, new things that’s way outside my comfort zone. And the strength does not come from me.

“But He said to me: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

2 Cor 12:9

tirsdag 16. desember 2008

Sea, healing spit and shower in the open

I felt the first tickling in my stomach as I smelled the salty air sitting in the taxi brousse. It was the first time I having that feeling for å long time, I didn’t even have it when we arrived in Tana two months earlier. But now we were here, in Mahajanga. With the sea. And the fresh salty breeze. Though it was nigh, and dark, it was beautiful. The smell made it beautiful.

After some days at Shalom’s office, sleeping in the bungalow and getting to know Per Ørjan and Guro the time came to go on the boat. This project is mainly for the Muslims here in Madagascar and the villages on the coast with no road connections. The goal is to establish school, “green schools”, that will teach the children how to do some simple agriculture, as well as introducing them to Jesus and Christianity. They also try to make the medical care better by having nurses or doctors staying there. The evangelists in each village visit homes of the inhabitants to pray and talk with them. And this, we were going to be a part of.
We left Saturday night, 6th of December. That night we slept out side on the deck, watching the thousand stars shining above us. It was peaceful and stunning. At four in the morning the rain came and we had to move in. It was much hotter in there but tired as we were we fell asleep again.
The following day was spent on the boat, as we went to the village the furthest away first. Arnhild unfortunately got a bit sick, but we still had a great day seeing dolphins as well right next to the boat! They were there for a long time, at least five, and it was really exciting seeing them so close.

In the first village we started out playing with the children on the beach. They really enjoyed it, though they did not understand much of the song as we played “bro bro brille”. We also visited the evangelist. He lived next to the green school and a well FLM built some years ago. We went with him to visit some people far away from the village with him, Feno and a shepherd (they were on the boat with us). We also taught English at the green school and the pupils were very happy to have us there and we had a really great time.
The next village was much hotter than the first one. We walked through the woods to get to the school and it was really hot. There we taught English as well and played with them. We played “frukt salat” (fruit salad) only with the Malagasy colors and it was so much fun. In the afternoon we were going to play again. When we showed up and the guy who went with us told the children on the beach that we wanted to play with them an old lady sitting close by started yelling and almost all the children ran away. It was clear that she didn’t want us to play with them! The guy who came with us then disappeared and we were left on our own. After a short while he came back and not alone. He had been to the school getting almost all the children and luckily they wanted to play with us! After a round of “bro bro brille”, with most people from the village watching us. When we moved to a more flat place to play “slå på ringen” our audience followed and soon even more people joined to watch, shouting and laughing. It was such a great time but unfortunately I got two huge blisters under my right foot, probably because I was running in the very hot sand. Making a small hole in them to get out the water also resulted in getting much mud in the following morning when the water was low and there was a long distance from the small boat to the beach with water and mud. Almost carried by Feno and Arnhild I finally reached the beach and was able to rinse the open wound. And of course this became the happening of the day and my audience was big. Luckily I brought my “Mac Gyver”-box with me so I had everything I needed to clean it. These wounds made certain other events happen as well, like being carried from the boat and to the other times the water was low by one of the guys on the boat. My dignity is almost gone and I felt really helpless and handicapped. If I only had known the language better I could at least have made some jokes about it. but I don’t and he didn’t speak any English so there was nothing for me to do about the humiliating silence but laugh a bit. The best part was may be still the little stop we had to fill water in another village on the way. Here we had a quick visit to the public school which resulted in a call to a local healer, apparently with a spiritual gift: his spit would heal wounds caused by fire and heat. So after making sure that the skin was whole in the wound and nothing was open, this man started spitting on the sole of my foot. Pretty grouse, and it didn’t help either, but it was a funny experience!

The last village was really beautiful and also the biggest of them all. After visiting the other villages we had gotten quite use to having no other toilet than the nature and that the shower was in side some walls of palm branches. In this village the shower however was different. It was a well in the middle of an open field. Just like Adam and Eve we stood there in the open, feeling the warmth of the sun as we showered. It was pretty special, and really nice actually. Why go skinny dipping when you can skinny shower?! :D
As most of the inhabitants were planting rice we went back to the boat a bit earlier. On our way back the rain came. Just like in Bergen it was a lot of water falling down. Unfortunately we had to go quite far with the little boat to get to Shalom but we’re in Africa and in Africa people show good hospitality. So to escape from the rain we hid under the roof of the outside terrace of a house we passed by. Soon the children living there came and invited us in so I can only imagine the surprise of their mother when she came in and saw to white people and a whole lot of others sitting on the floor talking and enjoying them selves. Though we escaped the worst rain we still got pretty wet on our way back, after yet another perfect day.

I’ve definitely had the best time till now on that boat, those ten days. I really didn’t realize how much I love and missed the sea before I was sitting on the boat, feeling the waves and the fresh breeze. Except from the water dripping down in the beds when the rain fell down I easily could have stayed there for many more days. Even if it was dripping I think I could. I know I could. I’m definitely going to try to get back here some day.

lørdag 15. november 2008

Kokebok og måpefjes

Wednesday morning, 12. November, and it's my first day at CEG, the secondary school where I'll be working. Fortunately Øyvin and I will have the same grade, 5th grade, so it'll be easier to prepare together. We've already prepared what to do and look forward to the first lessons, starting with English club for the teachers as er were told to days before. Evelyn , the principals secretary, meets us when we get there. I'm going to have 5th grade and Øyvin 4th grade. No, this is not the same grade. Apparently are these kind of changes completely normal, at least it doesn't seem like she's aware of the changes being done. We then ask how it'll be when i go to Mahajanga in December, when i won't be able to teach my class. Not a problem at all, she tells us, because they've found a great solution: Øyvin's going to have my class and another teacher will have his. Huh? Easy solution! ;)
We separate and are taken to our class rooms. The teaching is BEFORE the teacher's English club. I enter the class room and excited eyes are looking my way to see me, the new vazaha-teacher. «Good morning, teacher», 52 voices greeting me, everyone now standing. «Good morning, pupils» is my answer back, feeling my heart beat a bit faster that before. I walk towards my desk while Evelyn tells them to sit down again. Which I forgot to tell them. She shows me the book where I'm going to write down who's missing and what we've been doing during the classes and then leaves me alone with these 52 children, between 11 and 15 years old. I read all the names on my list, the Malagasy names, which are not very easy to pronouns, and they are all laughing. I imagine that we're having a good time! At least I am.

It's time to start teaching and I find my book and try to communicate that we're going to use the book and if they have brought them. All of them are staring back at me, with a typical «måpefjes» (a kind of lost-look), as I would say in Norwegian, and it doesn't seem like they've laid eyes on the English book before this day. Then three boys run out of the class room to get them, apparently the books are kept in the library. I open my bag to take out my Malagasy copy book to have some easy phrases in front of me. It would just have been a bit easier if the book didn't say «kokebok for Ingrid» (cooking book). Oh yes, I had brought the wrong book. My body turn colder as I realize that I only have the Malagasy words I remember, which are not so many. As many of you might know, reading, practicing and remembering vocabulary is not one of my strengths. I pray that it'll work out OK anyway.
The books have arrived in the class room and I start by asking them what the bird is doing? No response, they don't understand a single word I'm saying.

This whole situation is starting to get a bit ridiculous. I don't understand what they're saying and they don't understand what I'm saying. I try one more time. «What is this?» pointing at the bird, «Inona ity?». «Vorona!» loud and clear from everyone. At least I learn a new word, one that I've written down and should know but don't. I write on the black board «a bird – vorona» and we're starting. «The bird thinks», «The bird flies» and something as difficult as «The bird drinks water from the pot». The surprising part is actually that it's the youngest pupils who actually understand the most and are most eager to answer. My confidence is getting better when at least some of them understand. I learn some more Malagasy words, they spell them for me when I write on the board and they copy and hopefully learn some English words as well.

It's 08:53 and it's closing up to the break. They're now finished with their work and until it's 08:55 and the break starts, we've been able to communicate that the class is over and that they can go. I'm exhausted.