A visitor from Madagascar …..

In the middle of September we were pleased to have Heritiana Raholiarisoa to stay for a couple of nights. Heriatina had looked after us carefully when we had visited Madagascarin October 2011 and it was good to be able to return some hospitality. Having seen only a tiny fraction of Madagascarand got a brief and very partial insight into the life of the people there it is hard to imagine how the western world looks to someone with that background. Heriatina had spent 12 months at Penrhys in South Wales as one of the CWM volunteers a few years ago so this was not his first experience of the UK but he commented on the space in our houses, the variety of green trees, the plentiful and varied food we have available and of course the cold. Following a walk round the centre of Doncaster he asked why we need so many nightclubs and we told him we ask the same question! We also took him to the local college where the URC is represented on the chaplaincy team and he voiced his wish that there could be somewhere like that inMadagascar.

He spoke about the worsening political situation in the country resulting in increased poverty and hardship which in turn leads to increased crime. He told us something of the difficulties of one of the schools which is run by the church but at which his wife is the headteacher. This story could, I guess, be told of many of the schools in the country – it is a story of lack of resources and of little prospect of things changing. This was a school I had visited and what had struck me then was the resourceful way in which the teachers managed to educate children with no books, few pens or pencils or exercise books. But these were children with ready smiles and a desire to learn and it was clear that they would make the best of what they were being offered – at least until they reached the age at which their parents could no longer afford to send them to school. I think we do well to be reminded by such situations of all that we have in this country and of the words from Micah ‘what does the Lord require of you but to do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?’

Then we need to ask ourselves ‘what does justice and kindness look like for us and for people inMadagascar?’

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