Maren: “There is only poor and dying poor in Madagascar” (2/2)

Madagascar has the most beautiful nature, fantastic, the coolest animals, you felt like in this world and yet in another world, because everything looked different. That was really nice but also the only restful aspect.

 

There are the nicest people up to despising people.

There is only poverty. Not like in other countries, where there are poor and rich.

It’s only poor and dying poor.

 

Our holiday was more a discovery journey than a vacation. You can hardly enjoy it because it was emotionally very exhausting and difficult to process. The country (fifth-lowest country in the world) gives you an insight, which is otherwise seen in documentations about Central Africa with hungry babies and children who die. This was very similar.

 

Happiness despite poverty

We have seen quite happy people who had nothing, because the basic needs were covered.

 

So happiness was possible,

because there was water and if you have water,

you have field cultivation, you can raise children

and this is happiness.

 

That was also the beauty: To get rid of the Europeanized opinion that you have to have something to be happy.

 

We drove through the country and thought “oh god oh god, the poor” and then after two days we noticed that they laugh at least as much as we do. We have to change in thinking.

 

When we left the highlands and headed south-westwards, it became drier. The drier the more water deficiency and the poorer the people. There were only sand and steppes and mud huts.

 

It was terrible and emotionally overwhelming.

 

In the truck hotels, they put bowls on the roofs of the cabins at night to collect a few drops. That was the water they have provided us for showering. This was the scarcest good of everything and they would have liked to use it for cooking and drinking.

 

We did not use it, we did not brush our teeth and I got to know another level of dirt. We could not shower for three and a half days, we didn’t change our clothes, didn’t clean our teeth, nothing.

 

We have seen children who have drank from mud puddles next to the cattle. They had nothing.

 

We were passing a leprosy treatment center. They still have to deal with the pest.

 

UNESCO and Co – What happens with my donated money?

There is really the greatest poverty as you can imagine. And the only thing that gave us hope on the trip was when we drove through villages with a sign from the EU, Welthungerhilfe or UNESCO, often it was the EU.

In those villages was usually a well and there was also more life.

 

You really felt like the donated money would really get there. This was reassuring, because the issue about donations is also a huge discussion topic.

 

Terrifying, the arrogance of Europeans

Something that pushed me as an atheist even more towards atheism and something that was terrible, was that in villages where there are only three mud huts, instead of a well, there is a gigantic pompous stone church from the colonial era.

 

The churches are 50 to 60 square meters, pompous, the huts are 1 square meters, clay clashed against each other with sticks on top.

 

This was as frightening as cruel the arrogance of Europeans can be.

It was horrible.

Then you would tell yourself “if in every village would be a well they would survive.”

 

Something I also reflected on is that you can’t understand how people there can go on a “holiday” vacation and some actually do that.

 

There is at the end of the great paved road one of the world’s largest reefs with great diving and dream beach conditions. There are also giant hotels and then you ask yourself whether they go to a travel agency, look at a hotel and but don’t even look at how it looks like in the rest of the country.

 

And they do not even think about “do I have to shower three times a day when I sweat?”

 

If you drive from the capital to the north, there is also a touristy route and there you can also do island hopping. Where the water scarcity is of course even greater.

Hotels are built for tourists and the water is provided although actually the population would have the greatest need in water.

 

Madagascar is incredibly productive. They have a few mineral resources that they could well promote, for example vanilla and they have this good pepper sold here for 20g for 30 €.

And that money doesn’t get there. Of course for domestic political reasons, but also because of our global economy and the despising economic situation.

 

What do I see differently since then?

In every country there is wifi, also in the cities (in Madagascar), in the villages is nothing, but there is Coca Cola.

People have nothing to eat and bake little cakes with rice flour, watermelons and cactus figs are sold, and they have Coca Cola, which is on the shelf, dusty, and no one can afford it.

And you know how Coca Cola bring their products there. They come and say “either you take the bottles each month or your harvest is burning”.

 

I now boycott Coca Cola.

 

A lot has happened in my head.

For example, the famine has triggered something. I came back to Germany, and then I was fasting because I thought we should train our brain that we actually need less than we have.

And I can really enjoy the fact that I can go to the supermarket every day and from Madagascan vanilla to Mexican avocado can have everything I want.

 

You always say you appreciate it, but you don’t.

 

We felt whacked for two and half weeks, so we were glad to be able to fly back to a European country.

Where it doesn’t matter how you look when you are in the streets. Where you don’t have to be afraid. Where you no longer think about if a guy laughs at me because he wants to own me or where I simply accept that a man laughs at me because I exist.

 

You learn appreciation again

 

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