Regina Mburu, our communications liaison for Africa, recently returned from a trip to Madagascar to cover the stories of sponsored friends and their families. Regina is from Kenya.
Recently I had the opportunity to visit our CFCA project in Madagascar. I was all packed up and excited at the thought of visiting this beautiful island country.
After a smooth flight, we landed in Antananarivo, the capital city of Madagascar. CFCA staff members were already at the airport waiting for me, and in this land miles away from my motherland, I felt at home.
Our drive to Antsirabe, which is three hours from the capital city, was a bit scary. The road was very curvy with many turns and bends. However, the beautiful landscape and tracks of rice paddies made my fear fade away.
The languages spoken in Madagascar are Malagasy and French. It was really difficult for me to converse with people I met.
At one time I had quite an experience with the staff in the hotel where I was residing. The menu was written in French and I had no idea what to order. The simplest thing I thought of was “chips” (french fries) and fresh juice, so I placed my order.
After a few minutes they brought me potato crisps and freshly brewed beer!
I tried to explain that’s not what I ordered, but when my brows got sweaty trying to find the right words, I decided to just take the crisps. That was my dinner for that day.
Walking on the streets, I was met with many stares and whispers. Malagasy people are light-skinned and short; I looked out of place because I am dark-skinned and tall!
Some would talk to me and I would just smile. Later I would think to myself, what if they insulted me and I smiled back at them!
The most common means of transport in Antsirabe is called a “pousse pousse,” which is a type of cart. You take a seat on it, and someone pulls you.
This was very strange for me because I felt like I was punishing the person pulling me, especially if it happened to be an old man.
At one time, an elderly man wanted me to ride on his pousse pousse, and I hesitated.
He told the staff accompanying me, “Why doesn’t she want me to carry her? If all of you ignore me because I am an old man, what will I eat at the end of the day?”
I was so touched that from that day on, I preferred riding on the elderly men’s carts.
It is a beautiful experience living among people of a different culture.
One thing I learned during my stay at this beautiful island is that patience is a virtue. A virtue that one should accord to everyone: finding beauty in our differences and embracing it.
Madagascar is an island nation in the Indian Ocean, located 240 miles southeast of the African continent.