First day in Ambohibola, Madagascar.
Writing about Ambohibola is, I must admit, an odd process. That distant land which became my Home for 45 days can only be recalled through mixed memories, so heavily influenced by emotions. I can only hope that they will be reliable enough for writing.
We arrived at the village on August the 4th, 2011. We were seven volunteers hailing from countries as different as Norway, Germany, China, Kenya, the USA, the UK and Lebanon so, naturally, the village of Ambohibola was quite a sight: An endless series of sand dunes surrounding the village on one side and the Indian Ocean on the other; palm trees, wooden houses, a calm warm breeze and smiling children all warmly whispering “Welcome, Vazaha.”. We were in paradise, and we barely knew it.
After spending some time on the beach with the children, we were told to come back. A meeting was scheduled with the whole village.
I didn’t know it then, but some of the young faces looking up towards me would one day become a daily part of my dreams and memories, of my nightmares and depressions. Kristiny, Sasa, Dafnina, Stele, Telake, Jia, Farankoke, Berezike, Vanessa. They were all there.
The village president, simply known as “Président”, started off with a speech recalling the legacy passed down by their ancestors and reminding everyone why that legacy must be preserved. He then welcomed us, the Vazahas, and thanked us in advance for our ‘kindness’ in ‘taking time to help them’. I wish now that I had told them then how much kinder they seemed to us and how much they helped us.
We ended our day lying on the beach, surrounded by crabs, watching the stars.
Monday, October the 1st 2012.
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