Living Vicariously As A Peripatetic Shutterbug

{ More musings from the Cantankerous Old Mule }

Beauty in the broken (Madagascar floods, 2015)

150315 610_6592While living in the People’s Republic of Canuckistan I wrote a post called Beauty in the Broken about a beautiful burnt-out church close to where I lived. As I walked around disaster-relief sites last week I thought of that title again. I saw beauty as I watched families who had been displaced by the extensive flooding here in Antananarivo, Madagascar: beautiful people making the best of squalid conditions; the beauty of others coming alongside to serve those who had lost their homes.

This country is not equipped for disaster,with its complicated administrative systems (dating back to French colonial times) and a mostly-hamstrung, bankrupt government. NGOs like the Malagasy Red Cross Society, however, were quick to erect temporary shelters and start to source food for the reported 35,000-plus people who had been displaced.   Members of our church also got involved. Growing the Nations Therapy Programmes staff and volunteers (many of whom are part of the church) are co-ordinating health and hygiene programmes at 7 of the over 40 official displacement camps. And regular church members are volunteering at the camps. At one they erected water tanks, at another did therapy with people suffering from depression, and at another helped with human rights issues. With the spread of disease as great a problem as the lack of food, everything they are doing is making a difference. Amongst other things, they have been able to teach better hygiene practices, provide soap and clean water, and just be there to listen to people’s stories.

150315 610_6490Another lady in the church, who runs a mobile clinic usually staffed with a dentist and midwife, is partnering with Growing the Nations at their sites. On Saturday, with 2 doctors, 2 midwives and 1 dentist on hand, they attended to 236 people. Prior to that, over four days, they were able to treat over 300 patients at various sites.

What did I do to help? I took photos to help get their stories out there and played with the children. But as one friend noted: “In the middle of being caught up with issues of food supplies, health and hygiene, a return to normal activity, such as children playing, restores hope. This is because people catch a glimpse of the fact that life will return to normal again. This is a key way to fight depression and anxiety in disaster-stricken situations as the feeling of “normality” seems to be returning, even when the world is still upside down.”

The water is receding slowly but there is still much to be done before people can return home and get back to some sort of normality. In one area a group of fruit and vegetable vendors have lost their livelihood and will need to rebuild from scratch. In many areas, people will need to rebuild from the ground up or move their homes to higher ground completely. More money is needed, for sure, and volunteers will be busy for weeks to come. But as difficult as it is, I’m inspired. I hope that you can see some of the hope, life and beauty in these photos.

(Click for bigger versions.)

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6 comments on “Beauty in the broken (Madagascar floods, 2015)

  1. madasue
    March 16, 2015

    I have no words….
    Beautiful photos.

  2. jocelynr
    March 16, 2015

    Reblogged this on and commented:

    Beauty in the Broken: A friend’s beautiful photos and observations on the continuing flood crisis.

  3. Geraldine
    March 16, 2015

    Aaah, Robin … these are so moving!

  4. There_Lot
    March 16, 2015

    Beautifully captured..always a smile..no matter how hard life is..amazing

  5. Tojo Zakatianarimalala
    March 16, 2015

    Your photos are just beautiful Rob!!!

  6. Trinda McIntyre Lyons
    March 16, 2015

    Its so wonderful to know someone that can share other cultures through pictures AND words. Especially love seeing the smiles and the kids playing in the midst of hardship. Wonderful!

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This entry was posted on March 16, 2015 by in Madagascar and tagged , , , .
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