Lindsay Redifer, FOKO Blog Club’s First Vidcasts, the Majunga School of Journalism, the mini blogging contest, …

We got introduced to Lindsay Redifer thanks to the Rising Voices newsletter. Lindsay is a Peace Corps Volunteer stationed in Madagascar who stayed on to teach English at Majunga’s Journalism school. She also has a keen interest in citizen journalism and loves Madagascar, as she so powerfully describes in her interview by Pati . She became our Blog Club’s enthusiastic tutor in Majunga, Madagascar’s third city, on its western coast.

Majunga’s new citizen journalists are not only showing great promise but are already realizing them. The posts are engaging, numerous and in three languages : Malagasy, French and English. Take a look at the posts, translated in English here. Subjects range from the universally controversial one of abortion, to posts dedicated to Malagasy customs. We also have a slam poet !

We want to thank Lindsay wholeheartedly for her hardwork and dedication. Words are not enough. Lindsay is now leaving Madagascar for good and we wish her greatest success in her search to do more citizen journalism related work. Mirary soa ary misaotra betsaka, Lindsay !

Lindsay and Hery, the UN Youth Club Coordinator and FBC mentor, assisted also the young but talented Nombana and Pati in editing and producing their first vidcasts. They only needed some nudging and pointers to come up with real short documentaries. One is about the life of Dominique, a child beggar in Antananarivo. Another one is about the infamous lake of Behoririka in Antananarivo, a sad case of urban pollution disaster. Both were submitted to the Film Your Issue competition.

Thanks to Lindsay, our bloggers are also getting a special column in the Madagascar English Journal, a weekly publication for educational purposes distributed to schools and sponsored by the American embassy.

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And lastly, the last FOKO Blog Club session with new bloggers was held on April 26th. A joint one again with Majunga and Toamasina blog clubs participating. This time we have put some of our confirmed bloggers, Karenichia and Patricia in charge. There was no chatrooms for diasporic bloggers to cheer on the new bloggers. But the blogosphere was still present to discuss Lapino and Dadarabe’s cyberfety and to discover the new blogs.

We are working hard on providing more pictures, more podcasting and more vidcasting workshops.

We also held our first mini blogging contests. Results were announced. The winner will get a digital camera to take more pictures and make vidcasts, the others will get internet connexion, with special mentions to some very special ones who will be promoted to be mentors.

When members take control of the Foko Blog Clubs

The collaboration with the Namana Serasera group since October 2007 turned into a very enriching experience for both parts but mostly for us at FOKO. Our very young organisation has always received the inconditionnal support from their very energetic and socially involved members. They invited us at their annual tree planting event so we could learn more on environmental actions but they didn’t limited themselves to blogging only. We all know about Avylavitra’s achievements in Citizen Media but what must be known is his perseverance to share his knowledge to every new bloggers. Hery is now tutoring the students from UNIC Club (UN Informational Center where he works) and has accepted without hesitation in helping the students competing in the Film your Issue Short Film International Contest. This reportage from the Open Door Days at Lycée Jules Ferry on March 14th by the CPO Julf group proves their talents and interest in social causes .

Our Flickr is updated every 2-3 days now!

The blog posts since their first workshop portray Malagasy youth with a very mature but creative spirit :

Karenichia who is now posting twice a week in Malagasy, French and English (you can watch her thanking the Rising Voices on this video) shares her opinions on society, education and of course boys.

Qui reste-t-il à épouser? Nobody left to marry
Nobody is perfect but everyone has his ideal husband or wife. Who doesn’t know this? I was having a discussion about this with a girlfriend and we discovered that the ideal husband we dream about is a rare specie in exctinction. read more here

Pati who is also part of the group who made the CPO Julf video exposes her ideas on her personal blog:

Les jeunes de nos jours Kids the days

Who are they?
I think they’re human beings who don’t think themselves as children anymore but not ready to act as elders ! There is no age range to define who can be young and it’s up to us to see and sense who can be and who cannot!(…) So be careful young people! We are the young of everyday but also of tomorrow so don’t make a bad start by wasting your future. read more here

Ahasintsoa, Xylone, Kafoumette and Majy have already received cheerful welcoming from the blogosphere who has been regurlarly posting comments and tips to support our youth group.

The titling also refers to the extraordinary work of Toamasina group. Since Stéphane could’t make his monthly trip for the pictures and video training (the 2nd step of FBC ), they insisted in taking their reserved places at the cybercafé ! Poupoune diligently formed 2 friends of hers to blogging and despite the very bad connexion they were able to discuss with their new peers from Mahajanga on Skype. FBC-Mahajanga is a group of talented future journalists .This media is very new to them (the serious side of blogging), they took time to know more about the Malagasy blogosphere and discover the wonders from FBC-Tana and FBC-CPO groups. Lomelle managed to publish her first post during this short workshop and Faliniaina exposes his views on racism. With only a little training but a lot of (online) support, the voices from the provinces came straight from their hearts.

Lomelle : Slam for Life

My name is Lomelle I am 18 and in 2nd year at Mahajanka school of journalism. I’m fond of litterature but what I like the most is Slam poetry. As far as I can remember I always love reading. (…) Freedom of speech : Where no words is forbidden , no topic is tabou. Freedom to boo a slammer when his text displeases us, freedom to applaude when we’re fond of a text. Freedom to proclaim out loudly what we keep in our hearts. read more here

Faliniaina Racial and economical discrimination

How come we still have to talk about this? But it is the reality here in Madagascar. The vazaha (foreigners) come here and see us as we were the poor people who have to be inferior. (…)Myself, I’ve studied, and worked with vazaha in our own country and this is the feeling I have at this moment. We live under the era of economical colonisation. We have the wealth we’re not able to exploit, how will we manage do get out of this dead-end? read more here

Stay tune for more pictures and videos on

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