By Regina Mburu, CFCA communications liaison for Africa
As they put bits and pieces together, gluing the different parts and polishing the surfaces, Raharimalala and her husband, Ramanjanahary,are busy making pousse pousse toys, a business they have been operating as a means of livelihood.
Life was not always like this for this beautiful family from Madagascar.
“We were struggling to provide for our two children. Paying for school tuition and having a meal on the table at the end of the day was a milestone,” recounted Raharimalala.
A friend from their neighborhood saw the family’s struggle and empathized with them. She introduced them to CFCA.
Staff members from the CFCA office visited the family’s home and could see that they were hardly making ends meet. CFCA enrolled their son, Michael, in the Hope for a Family sponsorship program.
“CFCA lent us a hand when we needed help the most. They shared our burden and made our load lighter,” Ramanjanahary said.
The couple knew, however, that they could not depend solely on CFCA. They had to come up with a business idea.
They got the idea to make pousse pousse toys. A pousse pousse is a type of cart in which passengers sit and someone pulls them. It is the most common means of transport in the city of Antsirabe, where CFCA’s project in Madagascar is based.
“I once saw a man selling pousse pousse toys in the streets of Antsirabe, and it captured my interest. I bought the toy, and when I got home I dismantled it and put it back together. This is how I learned the art of toy making and passed it over to my wife,” Ramanjanahary said.
The husband and wife make the toys from their home and sell them to tourists. Depending on the season, they can make handsome profits from the sale of the toys.
“We both enjoy our work very much. I have become very close with my husband because we work together,” said Raharimalala, giggling.” We are our own bosses and this gives us plenty of time to spend with our children. I am glad that we have become a close-knit family.”
Raharimalala is a member of a CFCA mothers group called Fiorenana, which translates to Foundation in English. They meet on a monthly basis and discuss various issues, such as their children’s development. The mothers also share their thoughts on other topics.
“The group is like family to me. I trust them and it gives me great joy to be part of the Fiorenana group,” Raharimalala said.
The family receives nutritional benefits from CFCA in addition to the education benefit that their son gets. The benefits are of great help to the family because they can save money they would have spent on the items provided through sponsorship.
They hope they can expand their toy-making business using the money they have been able to save.
CFCA’s Hope for a Family program encourages and supports families to start livelihood programs to help them break away from poverty.
“Other than benefits, CFCA opened up our minds; they have encouraged us and made us believe in the strength that lies deep in us,” Ramanjanahary said. “Families should work hard and utilize their talents to better their livelihoods.”
Raharimalala and her husband encourage their children to work hard in school. They believe that education is the only path to success.
“We would love to see our children get the best education,” Raharimalala said. “We want them to have the opportunities we never had.”