Murray and Penelope took the great opportunity to travel to Mandritsara Madagascar with a team from Bryndwr Baptist Church in September 2003. The aim of the trip was to build a storage facility onto the existing hospital Hopitaly Vaovao Mahafaly.
After a 26 hour journey with 2 short rest stops by transit van in 36 degree heat our bed beneath a mosquito net was a welcome sight.
We were part of a diverse team: Kylie our cook, Dave the leader and builder, Julia a carpenter, Charles our electronics main man. Murray and Roy joined the building crew as a bricklayers and Penelope worked in anaesthetics at the hospital as a doctor.
The hospital staff and locals were all so welcoming. There were nursing staff from Switzerland, and Germany, doctors from USA and England and a host of local hospital staff. The long wait for patients sitting outside was punctuated with bible stories and each patient was prayed with prior to their operation.
We enjoyed the daily interaction with the local children as they called “Salama” all along our 2 km walk to the hospital each morning and home at night.
Murray introduced the local children to hopscotch and we all thoroughly enjoyed watching them flying the kites he made.
Our experiences included bleaching our vegetables, eating meat and scrawny chicken from the open market and munching on deep fried locusts. We experienced ombe (long horned cattle) and people all bathing together in the local river.
The local knife village and pot villages were a great opportunity for cycling trips along dusty roads. The most amazing thing was how the locals managed to look so elegant in their pristine white clothes while we seemed to be magnets for the red dust.
We took school supplies which was all appreciated as such things are scarce and a luxury there. Families have to pay for their children to go to school and for uniforms so education is a big commitment for families most of whom lived in homes made from mud and sticks.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Madagascar, its people, land and diversity. We came home touched and changed by our experience
receiving more in experience than we felt we gave.