Daily Archives: April 13, 2015

Back to school -

61.3km – 8H01
Mada (Madagascar) – in a few figures:
Estimated population in 2014: 23 millions 210 000 hbts
Population breakdown by age group:
– under 14 years = 40,7%
15 -24 years = 20,6%
25 – 54 years = 31,3%
55 – 64years = 3,2%
65 years and above = 3,1%
Life expectancy = 65 years in 2012
birth rate in 2013 = 13 37,13 per 1000
Infant mortality in 2013 = 46,13 per 1000
Literacy : 64 %
32% of the population lives in cities
In 2007: 0,5 doctors per 1000 people
In 2009: 19% of the population had access to electricity
After the two-week Easter vacation, children are going back to school in Madagascar. It’s now time to tell you some of what we have learned while we traveled several hundred kilometers.
Normally, school is mandatory but for many because of poverty there is no school. Parents are unable to buy the necessary supplies: ballpoint pens, note books or books. Some villages have a primary school and secondary schools are too far for children who live in the bush to attend. There are no school busses.
There are public and private schools. The public schools are often over crowded, for example 143 pupils for one teacher, who is often badly or not even paid and whose absences are not counted. He/she has to have another activity in order to live. Consequently, teacher training is haphazard… Private schools charge tuition and they have a cafeteria (something that is not available in the public schools). The level of education is higher because teachers are paid better and they do their job, which consists of transmitting their knowledge to a reasonable number of children (40 students maximum). For information, Tananarive has a French Lycée, the largest in Africa. There are 20,000 French in Madagascar…

As for Serge, he has no vacation, no homework and he doesn’t have to go back to school. His mission consists of advancing every day in order to reach Majunga, on the west coast of Madagascar. In spite of uneven terrain, 833meters of positive ascent yesterday and 730 today, he proceeded at a good pace. The heat is back; we had almost forgotten it over the last few days. At the 23rd km we were almost at an altitude of 900 meters and this evening we set up camp on the banks of a river on the outskirts of Kamolandy, a village at an altitude of 584 meters. Because Serge had not run enough kilometers, he ran2.3 km further which also took him higher. We try not to use the vehicle to accompany him because with only one vehicle, it carries all our camping material: bedding, kitchen, baggage, food; but that is a detail. Danz and Hassina are super organized. The advantage of camping is that all our baggage stays in the vehicle, we only take out the tents and the kitchen. The truck is also our office. We decided to stop near a village because 1) there was and flat spot and 2) near the dispensary there are big trees which will give us shade and a bit of cool. Naturally, we asked permission from the village chef, Sefo Fokotanay. After a short discussion with Danz, he accepted our request so our caravan spent the night here.
Physically Serge is hanging on, with his right Achilles tendon which has been protesting since last night. It is another weak point we know well. Today he added a small heel pad. Serge is using beautiful yellow running shoes, Pro Touch P 1.0 by Intersport, who recently started a line of running shoes. Intersport is one of our main sponsors. Unfortunately, the shoes are no longer very yellow but they are comfortable and he does not want to change them for the moment. I think this pair will take him across Madagascar.
For the moment he is wearing his anti-UV T-shirt with long sleeves which cover the back of his hands. He was supposed to only wear these shirts on the water but the Malagasy sun decided differently. There are lots of kids who are observing from a distance of a few maters from our camp. We are an attraction and it is certainly a rare treat to be able to look at vasahas. Their beaming faces warm the atmosphere and we melt!