I am sitting in the warm afternoon wind on a terrace overlooking Antananarivo city. Due to a cancelled flight I have got an extra day to reflect and think back to five days in beautiful Madagascar. I feel strongly about my visit here. I am inspired and encouraged. The staff team at the national YMCA office has been bending over backwards to show us warm hospitality like when we had pizza in the garden outside the office.
At the same time this is a modern YMCA with strong links to both the Africa Alliance and to the World YMCA and the philosophy of Youth Empowerment and S2C. Nirina is leading a YMCA focusing on empowerment and job training and job creation and entrepreneurship.
Madagascar YMCA has strong partners. On the photo above the Minister for Labour in the Malagasy Government is speaking at the breakfast meeting, attended by a number of top leaders from banking, corporate business, Universities and large NGOs.
I was invited to speak and I shared my story about Ian from the garbage dump in San Pablo who got education and a job through the vocational training system of the YMCA. The Minister bowed over to me and whispered in my ear: “Unfortunately you will not find many Ian-stories in Madagascar!”
The Minister was a very charming acquaintance. Next day we went to Antsirabe, a city 5-6 hours drive away from the Capitol. To our mutual surprise we discovered that the Minister and her husband stayed at the same hotel and we had a nice chat in the restaurant that evening.
90% of the population is poor and struggling to survive on 2 dollars a day. 3% are really rich and then you have a shrinking middle class on 7%. The Minister of Labour was genuinely motivated to work with the YMCA as a partner in the fight to improve living conditions for young people.
The Minister answered questions. She stayed with us for one and a half hour and had brought her top three Civil Servants from the Ministry. I was really impressed.
The meeting continued and here is the Director General of the Ministry speaking to us and making his statement that the YMCA from this day on would be an official partner to the Government in the implementation of the Labour policy.
Two days after the meeting we were making a stop in a small city where people were producing aluminium products in the old ways – very interesting. On the other side of the street a car stopped and the Director General climbed out and shouted to us. He had recognized us and stopped for a talk.
Then we are back to the real focus for all the above meetings and discussions – the young people and Youth Empowerment. Madagascar YMCA is really good at it. There is a club for absolutely all possible interests, and all these clubs go together and constitute a YMCA Power Space. Above is the beauty and cosmetic club.
And equally self evident a club for face painting.
This is the local art club, holding an impressively high level of performance in drawing and painting.
If you are lucky you can listen to 19 seconds of the Music club.
Our good friend Zo, the professional tour guide, was our driver during the whole stay and explained a lot of things for us. When I left the car to make photos of the grafitty, he came after me and translated the words and put it all into context. (See the blogpost “Madagascar Fantastico”).
Below the S2C (From Subject to Citizen) Credo on the wall of the YMCA.