The story of Manisa Ranarijaona
A young boy living in the highlands of Madagascar describes his daily responsibilities, worries and hopes and how a TeleFood school garden project means more children are attending classes, eating better and even learning a few farming tricks. My name is Manisa Ranarijaona and I am 11. My teacher asked me to talk about myself and our TeleFood project because I am a good student. It wasn't always that way. Once my teacher shouted at me because I didn't know my lesson. I stayed at home for three days and didn't want to go back to school. Finally she came and got me and here I am. [All Photos: ©FAO/Marco Longari]
My day starts at sun rise, which is around 5:00 a.m. here. I am the oldest of three brothers and it is my job to light the fire and cook breakfast which is a pot of porridge on the boil, and then I wash the dishes.
I love my brothers Jary and Jorohasina but I sure wish I had a sister to help me with all the chores. My little brothers help with some things like carrying water but not the cleaning. A sister would help with the cleaning.
Our TeleFood garden
The school garden is down the hill from the school. Thanks to TeleFood help, we have planted things I never knew about before like peach, plum and banana trees. I learned how to prepare the soil and how to apply fertilizer. Our parents came and learned too.
I am happy for it because we can have vegetables for school lunches and the school can make some money from selling some of the produce. The money goes to buying seeds, tools and watering cans when the material that TeleFood provided is finished.
We are planting brede today, which is a green leafy vegetable. Our teachers try to get us to eat vegetables more often especially during the hungry period of the year before the harvest. That's when we eat just manioc by itself at home.
When I grow up I want to be a farmer. I would like to plant some of the same things we learn about here at school in our garden at home. I am especially interested in the fruit trees. Maybe I could make some money to buy food.
It's harvest time! We pull up the bean plants and drag them up here to the school yard. Then we strip the beans off. They are cooked for school lunches with potatoes and leeks. The stalks and leaves are fed to the animals.
School lunches are a big deal. The government, UNICEF and FAO support the programme. We have lunch once a week although I heard that our parents and the school are talking about making it two or three times a week.I notice that more kids come to school when we have lunches. I guess their parents send them in order to have a free meal.
There are things I'm not used to like leeks, potatoes, radishes and other things. Some students won't eat them. I eat everything and like everything.
This is our world, the village and fields of Ambohitseheno. I give water to the cows with my brother. Behind us is a rice paddy, which is the main crop grown here. We eat rice every day in Madagascar.My dad cultivates manioc, rice, tarot and sweet potatoes. My brothers and I carry the fertilizer and compost to the field. It is small field and we grow only enough rice to feed the five of us for three months. We have to buy rice otherwise.If we could grow vegetables or fruit trees as in our TeleFood garden at school, we could eat some of them at home too and sell the rest to earn some extra money.
Here is my dad Solomanga repairing tools in our workshop. I am working the bellows. It's fun. He makes money repairing farm tools from all over the neighbourhood.
The forge is attached to our house, which my parents built from local bricks about four years ago with the help of our neighbours. Before we lived in our grandparents' house.
This is my mom Hortense. Since we don't have electricity, she is using the last light of the day to do some sewing. You can see a pile of shorts on the right that she has made to sell at the market.
I had to run to the store for some sugar. We don't grow our own so we have to buy it. My dad gave me his hat to wear because it was raining a bit.
My favourite subject is the Malagasy language because it's easy. Maths is really difficult. What's worse, it is in French. In geography, my lesson for today is "Problems in agriculture".
I help my brothers with their schoolwork. The other night, I had to explain something to Jary about his French lesson.
That was a typical day in my life. Like I said, I want to be a farmer when I grow up. I'd grow maize, rice and fruit trees. I hope to be able to keep on learning and applying the techniques I was shown in our TeleFood project. Then I can earn money to buy food and help my family.