We had to wait a long time, but at the end of last month we finally made our family trip to Sandrohy and the surrounding vilages. Although we still did not have a vehicle ourselves, friends made the trip possible by lending us their four wheel drive family car. It was a long trip of 540 km that took us 14 hours, mainly because of road conditions.
Upon arrival we were welcomed by many people of the village. The people of Sandrohy take great interest in visitors, especially foreigners. We stayed in the centre of the village in a specially prepared room, adjacent to a local shop. We felt very welcome in many ways: the local chilldren played with our children and brought them so many flowers we felt we needed to tell them we had quite enough whereas the local women enjoyed chatting with Katja.
You can see a video impression of our trip here:
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The goals of the trip were to get to know the area, to meet with the local people and their headmen (mpanjaka) and to see where we might live as a family.
On a previous trip Jurgen had already visited several villages. This time we renewed these contacts as a family. A local friend helped us to say the right words (greetings and goodbyes are subject to good form) and help us communicate our meanings in coming to their villages. We emphasised that we are coming to share the Good News from the Bible with them, but that we need to learn their dialect first. We asked them for their friendship as we will need some people to stand by us.
The responses were heartwarming – especially in 2 villages. In Tsiombivositra (see picture below) the whole village said they wanted to be friends and asked for a photo as a confirmation between us of our friendship. We will print the photo and bring it to the headman on our next visit. We were touched by the fact that it was not just the headman pleading his allegiance with us, but it was clearly something in which everyone wanted a part.
We also spoke with our new friends about a place to live. The were concerned since they did not have a pomp nearby – and what would we do if we got sick? We were moved that our new friends did not so much worry about their own needs in this respect, but were thinking of us!
Our contact in the region, Sylvestre, had a solution for a place to live. He owns much land in his own village and has a small plot of land just outside the village he is willing to offer up for the purpose. We are very thankful that there is a place for us, central to many villages in the Sandrohy area. Before deciding we will discuss the matter further with AIM Madagascar’s leadership. Exciting times …