About lova rakotomalala

Currently the editor of the Francophone region for Global Voices, I am a researcher in biomedical engineering and consultant in Global Health. Raised in Madagascar, I have a strong interest in international development and digital media as a tool to promote social change and transparency in the developing world. I am currently attending the Woodrow Wilson School of International Affairs and Public Policy at Princeton U to further that specific interest. I am also part of the core team of the Foko, an NGO driven to promote the online exposure of social grassroots projects based in Madagascar. I can also be found at twitter.com/lrakoto and on my personal blog, http://rakotomalala.blogspot.fr/.

Backstage with the Foko coordinators in three Malagasy cities.

Foko wouldn’t have been close to achieving its goal of without the relentless commitment of its coordinators on site who managed to recruit promising new bloggers. We’ve already posted photos and podcasts from Stéphane, Lindsay, Hery, and Tantely. Foko would like to thank them again for building a strong network and give opportunities to many different groups of volunteers. It took plenty of time and effort on their parts and we’re all very proud of what they have accomplished.

Let’s recap the recent posts by each cities’ group of bloggers. You will see that some of them wrote about undertaking projects that would bring tangible social changes in their respective communities:
1) The group in the city of Mahajanga is composed of the next generation of Malagasy journalists formerly supervised by Lindsay. On the Foko Flickr album, you can see that many of the authors from Mahajanga are also part of a dance team.

Diana blogs about taking on a project that would help alleviate the congenital condition of a Kamba baby and support his family. Rondro recently submitted a post on Tromba (a Malagasy spirit calling practice) to the English Journal of Madagascar and will continue with her monthly contribution of news from the provinces and writing about Malagasy Culture. Lomelle, who was one of the winner in the FBC blogging contest, MielManja, Zouboon and Jombilo have also provided us with poetry, interviews and surprising stories.

2) The Antananarivo group is represented by the CPO UN Youth Club and bloggers from the Namana Serasera community. FcCandy is currently taking her final exams and we encourage everyone to cheer for this amazing 13 year-old blogger by leaving a comment on her blog. Karenichia and Pati are well-known for their taking charge of some of the FBC workshop activities.

From this group, there is also Witched who recently wrote about a RV common blog theme: How do you have fun in your country? New Bloggers Andovahin, Nombana, Majy and Aikomamy are giving us great hopes as well. Blogging workshops are already scheduled for the summer vacations to keep the students active and will be tutored by Hery.

3) The Toamasina group is now blogging in Betsimisaraka and…English ! Patrick is the president of the Toamasina English Club group and is now a partner of the FBC. We mentioned previously the importance of bringing more attention to Toamasina, a economically surging region with still limited media coverage. Therefore, Foko always awaits posts published by the Toamasina group with great anticipation. Poupoune often contributes to to the Foko Flickr album with impressive photos, hence maintaining a regular inputs from the group in spite of connectivity issues.

How does Foko coordinate everyone’s efforts from 3 cities far apart? The increased internet connectivity is evidently a major help even though for the first few months, each group encountered problems with computer training and spotty internet connection. Since some coordinators are based overseas, Foko relies heavily on text-messaging and Skype to transmit information back and forth. We’re also giving the Twitter platform a try and we are planning on teaching every bloggers the value of this new blogging tool.

New Voices from the Malagasy Provinces and High School Students.

Keeping up with their blogging activities was certainly a struggle last week for Foko members as Madagascar was still coping with the aftermath of cyclone Ivan ( flooding and humanitarian crisis). Nevertheless, media workshops were still held at the usual location for volunteers to expand on their perspectives over the post-cyclone events. Young Stephy expresses her fear over her house not holding up to the strong gusts of wind while avylavitra illustrated the damages caused by the flood with photos and videos that were re-utilized on many majors digital news media.
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Considering the circumstances, it was quite amazing that the media workshops were extended to new communities. First, despite frequent black-outs due to the bad weather in the port of Toamasina, the first media workshop was given to volunteers from a local mining company. 4 new bloggers (vazahabe, lafatra, christian and Luc) joined the Foko blogging community. We have hefty expectations for our new bloggers. Toamasina is the largest port of Madagascar and its economic center. For more on the city of Toamasina, here is slideshow summarizing the city and the region.
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Additionally, a workshop in a new city, Mahajanga, is planned for the coming week, with the help of members of the School of Journalism taught by Lindsay Radifer. Remarkably, Toamasina and Mahajanga are about 800 km apart. Internet connection was proven to be scarce in cities outside of Antananarivo.In fact, 80% of bloggers reside in Antananarivo. It is therefore important to open these cities to digital media.

Still, the highlight of the past week was to witness the enthusiasm of new bloggers from the JJ Rabearivelo high-school. The workshop was conducted in collaboration with the United Nations Club ( CPO) led by Hery (interview: Youth and ICT). They already posted very intriguing posts about the unemployment problem for students and the loss of respect for the elders in Madagascar.

Here is a video of the media workshop with the high-school students with english subtitles.

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Here are a few excerpts from the new bloggers:

“There are guys who have licence in Laws, Management and other subjects but they still cannot find jobs and end up working as bus drivers or other small jobs. This is very sad.”

“In the past, young Malagasy people used to obey and respect the raiamandreny. They held a very important place in the society and to this, they proved to be trustworthy and honest. The youth trusted in their intelligence; they gave good advices to those who needed it, they were fair in judging civil quarrels,.. there was no use defying them because most of the time they were right. Nowadays, the soatoavina malagasy disappears little by little and we can see it in our everyday life.”

From Popoune:

“In Madagascar, women are still dependent of their husbands. Without their consent, they can do nothing and this is still very common. For example : if a woman reach a certain level of education, she is still obliged to ask her husband’s permission, even if it has something to do with her own well-being first.”

About CPO or Club pour l’ONU: this club exists in many schools in Madagascar (high and middle schools) for many years now. For Lycée Jules Ferry in Faravohitra, the club started in 1998 and we’re celebrating its 10th anniversary this year