Tuesday, October 22, 2013

How to capture the hearts (and votes) of 7 800 000 voters

The 2013 Madagascar elections have nothing in common with anything I have seen so far.  Of course, 33 candidates is an outraguous fact in itself, but it does not stop there.

The closest thing to this that I have wittnessed in my life, was in Trinidad and Tobago. There, once a year, there is excitement in the air. Masses of people, dancing on the street behind big trucks, with dito speakers Popular artists fill up stadiums, people drink rum, dance, jump and wave their flags. I too participated, in my red feathery bikini dancing two days non-stop in the parade behind a blasting truck.

T-shirts and songs
In Madagascar voting is not so obvious. The are no political parties. No election manifestos. No ideology, no left- or right-, or center, no Republicans or Democrates. It's hard to make an informed choice if you can not compare programs. So how can a candidate capture a voter's attention? With T-shirts. Many t-shirts. And songs. One candidate is called Sylvain. His slogan is "Sylvain sur vingt" (quite funny). His song is brilliant: Bye Bye unemployment, bye bye famin, bye bye disease.  To me, half of the songs sounds like straight from church, the others like Caribbean carnival hits. Some candidates even dress like calypso artists.

Dadafara fans place posters

Win a house!
It does not stop there. There are tombolas (first price: a house, second price: one month salary).Oh and goodies and give-aways in all sizes and shapes. From hats to helicopters. It is one big carnival parade.

So who is going to win this thing? The one with his face on most places in town? The most catchy song? Or the one that has most money and goodies to distribute? What do you think?

Blasting Campaign bus from Sarah Georget

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Simple Addition...

What do you get when:

You add 300 back packs + 209 pencil cases + 300 blue pens + 300 red pens + 300 black pens + 300 green pens + 300 pencils + 840 notebooks + 300 rulers + 300 pencil sharpeners + 300 erasers?

It = (equals):

300 happy children's faces, 12 happy teachers, and a whole new school year 2013/14 starting off very well. This morning, with financial support of GFA Consulting Group, we were able to donate to Akanifitahiani, center for nutritional and educational support for street children.

300 children in anticipation

Bigger kids help carry big boxes

All boxes arrived at the center

Little ones waiting in the hot sun
The 20 kids from 'la maternelle' first...

With Hasina, the centre's manager
How long do we have to wait?
A sea of blue bags

Happy little fellow...

Let's get to work

Thank you GFA Consulting Group (Michel's company) and their Bridges Fund for Social Projects!

Thank you Vivianne Charles from Fondation Telma for your advice, Laurie Hau for your help, Anthony Asael for the pictures.

Thank you Soleine, Kate, Yasmin, Sarah and Abibatou for your hard work sorting, packing and stacking!

Packing 1,200 pens, 840 notebooks, 300 rules etc etc

No play group this week, work group!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

What kittens and elections have in common

Beatrice Atallah is the head of the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENIT), the organization responsible for ensuring electoral laws are followed so that elections are credible. Beatrice is now the 'mother' of 33 presidential candidates. Less than a week after the start of the campaign, she is calling for order...

Food fights
Messy kittens
It reminds me a lot of our cat Tricky and her frivolous kittens. They're now nearly 6 weeks old. Mother Tricky is trying hard to teach them some discipline. But do you think the mini-cats are listening?
They are hanging in the curtains, stepping in their water bowl and scattering litter all over the house. They're meewing and peewing and walking under our feet, fighting for their food, and sitting on our heads. It's havoc in our house!

Official campaign rules
The CENIT is reminding the candidates about the official campaign rules. Propaganda posters are not supposed to be on bus shelters, lamp posts and market walls, but on specially placed bill boards with 33 spaces. Candidates are supposed to manage their own security during their internal events and not cause any nuisance or disturbance. Space on National Radio and TV is to be divided equally, and not only to those with the biggest bags of money...

Is it working? Are the candidates listening?  As much as our kittens! Good luck Mrs Atallah.

Many empty spots on the official elections bill boards

But posters on every other possible location...