A visit to Madagascar

I have just returned from 6 days in Madagascar. Traveling with three people from the National Synod of Wales, Rev Peter Noble, Mrs Bethan Trott and Rev Linda Elliott as well as Miss Sharon Rees, an Education Worker at the Llanfair Uniting Church, Penrhys and representative of the Union of Welsh Independents (UWI). The purpose of our visit, organized by Rev Jane Rowell (Secretary for World Church Relations) was to: 

  • Show solidarity and concern for our brothers and sisters in FJKM – The Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar.
  • Help the National Synod of Wales and FJKM restart their partnership
  • Learn about the life of FJKM, its work and mission.

                                          We stayed in the capital Antananarivo – a sprawling, noisy and seemingly chaotic city. The terrain is hilly and much of it appears to be built on the vertical with buildings tight packed and clinging to hillsides. 

Clinging to the hillsides

 

The days were full and we saw indications of the extreme poverty and examples of the hope which pervades so much of the outlook of the church in Madagascar. 

The political situation in the country is not a happy one – the President who was working to improve the infrastructure and economic possibilities was deposed in a coup three years ago. Following that event the international community ceased trading with Madagascar resulting in increasing unemployment and poverty. Those of our group who had visited previously, detected increased fear in the eyes of those with whom we spoke and we were constantly warned to keep valuables out of sight – muggings, robbery and violence have also increased. 

We spent all week in and around Antananarivo but driving short distances out of town we saw fertile paddy fields where crops looked to be growing well. In conversations we discovered that Madagascar is also rich in national resources. 

We visited four projects and I will write about them tomorrow. 

Noise and bustle

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