Newsletter Archive


SUMMER HOLIDAY 2007or click here to see Vacances d'été 2007

From June to August, the children at Akany Avoko experienced a summer that felt like a real holiday. All of the children followed a schedule of activities, much the way they would at a camp, allowing them to participate in and learn new hobbies, sports, and skills.

In the second part of the summer, they were divided into two groups to take turns travelling to Mahajanga for a break from winter in the high plains. They enjoyed a hot holiday at the beach where they had a chance to build sand castles, play on the beach, and cool off with lots of swimming in the ocean. The children have put together this newsletter to explain their holidays and their favourite parts of it.

" …This holiday was very special compared to the ones before because we have got many activities and hobbies to entertain us "

" … .this year is very special and different; we have had the chance to learn how to use computers and we have all had fun doing competition with the games in the computer and typing…we never want to leave the computer room when our turn is finished! "

Here are all the different activities we had: sports, dance, gardening, handicrafts, cooking, going for walks, learning "etiquette and life skills;" and of course, as we mentioned above, we had fun learning how to use computers as well. We invite you to see more about all our activities below.

There are two different dances that we learned, Traditional dances and contemporary dances. For both, we had very well known teachers.

The traditional dances :
These are Malagasy dances, which means that we dance with Malagasy songs. What also makes them different is that we have to sing the songs at the same time as we dance. Often the dances show the different cultures and ways of life in the different ethnic groups in Madagascar (eg. people from the highland, people from the south, and so on…). When we really enjoy a dance, we always would like to keep singing the songs from that tribe.

"Even though there are lots of different dialects, we have fun speaking the language which is all called Malagasy language, and it's funny sometimes because some of us don't know how to pronounce the dialect well but we are in a rush to sing the tune!!!!"

The contemporary dances:
These are the modern dances which need neither heavy nor slow music to go with them. Most of the music that goes with this dance sounds like African music. But these dances are also done to show stories. They need concentration from the dancers and the spectators because you can draw lessons from them in addition to being entertained. They are also of course a source of money for dancers.

"I like contemporary dances very much. We often perform dances for the visitors at Akany Avoko and I am very happy to see people enjoy watching me dance."

We learn how to sew and afterwards we can sell our crafts in the Akany Avoko café. Madame Vony teaches us how to sew and there are volunteers as well coming to Akany Avoko to teach us lots of different skills such as drawing, painting, taking photos and so on.

This is also one of the holiday activities because we need to keep our home looking green and nice. For these gardening activities, we water the vegetables, weed and fertilize.
" What makes it funny when working in the garden is to see some girls who are afraid of worms and also to see the ones who are not used to doing the work, but most of us have been living at Akany for a long time so are used to everything."

Preparation of meals:

We take turns cooking and during the holiday we are used to helping one another because lots of visitors came, such as BSES, World Challenge. We felt very tired after the preparation, but we have a proverb in Malagasy saying:
"You cannot have proper meal until you work hard and start sweating!"

We all at Akany Avoko like sports very much and we have got our goal for the sports with the help of our trainers to participate in the competition organised by the "Analamanga league", we would like to take part in football competition but we also play volleyball and basketball

And everyone is crazy about this sport and enjoys it very much. One of the girls said,
"I like playing basketball very much because it will help me get taller and make me strong and of course make me happy when I win!"

Life SKIlls:
This program is to help us think about our future which means helping and leading us to think about reaching one goal in the future, also we learn about life skills and how to be polite because we live in a place to prepare young people to be real citizens.

Going for a walk:
We all like going for a walk and on Sundays we won't be happy until we go for a long walk with volunteers.
"We prefer walking up the hills, we have even been up to one hill five times because we really enjoy seeing all the nice view".

These are all the fun activities we had while we were at the centre. The second part was going on holiday to the North West coast of Madagascar. You can read about it next!

We go on holiday together every year, we go to different places but often it takes place at the coast, and also some girls and kids have never been to the coast so this always gives us the chance to see the ocean. This year our staff chose Mahajanga on the North West coast of Madagascar, we did lots of activities during our holiday over there such as swimming, cooking, playing, going for a walk, singing, dancing and sightseeing.

There are about 160 girls and children at Akany Avoko so we had to be divided into two groups for the trip, the first group had been in Majunga from 6th to 16th August and the second group from 21st to 31st August. Majunga is about 550 km from the city so it took us about 14 hours to reach there; the first group had trouble with broken tyre on the way back so it took them 24 hours to reach the centre.

This was the girls first impression to be in Majunga:
" what a hot weather, nice town and such a huge ocean which is so amazing!"

We didn't do much on our first day because everyone was very tired but in the afternoon, we were divided into five groups and in each group had two staff to look after us and we called them Mum and Dad, we organised all our activities and took turns cooking, doing the washing up and so on.

We stayed in one big house over there, and at nights we slept all together down on the floor using our own mattresses.

The staff and the older girls took turns to prepare our meal, and it was fun eating together down on the mats



So we spent most of our time on the beach, we packed our lunch in the morning and off to the beach, had fun together, swam, played with sand, took photos.....,

The little ones too enjoyed playing with the sand and had fun playing in the sea, at first they were all nervous and afraid of the sea, but later they were all fine and didn't want to leave the water; we were so happy.
"Do had a special sand birthday cake made in celebration of his birthday!!!" "It had been so wonderful being on the beach and seeing the blue ocean, but at first we were a little bit shy to wear our swimming costumes since we were not used to it".
"Do had a special sand birthday cake made in celebration of his birthday!!!"
"It had been so wonderful being on the beach and seeing the blue ocean, but at first we were a little bit shy to wear our swimming costumes since we were not used to it".

We left the beach at 4ish and got ready for fun at the seaside in town, we were strolling and chatting with one another, also went for merry go round and a big ferris wheel, had brochette, took some photos. It was crowded at the seaside in the evening because it was so hot there then people preferred hanging about outside before going to bed.

We also organised song competitions "Akany Idol" between us and we held them every evening before going to bed, it was fun to sing in the front of everyone!

We also organised song competitions "Akany Idol" between us and we held them every evening before going to bed, it was fun to sing in the front of everyone!

Another day we went to have an excursion at the cirque rouge which is a kind of canyon. Then we were given the opportunity to sightsee and went for a rickshaw ride.

We were so happy to see the big ships at the harbour and also seeing such a huge tree called baobab.

At the weekend, we didn't do very much, on Saturday we just stayed at home to have rest and on Sunday we went to church. On our way back home, we were given small money and bought "voandalana" which means fruit of the road.



Great Success for Akany Avoko Students!
It was a typical cold June winter's day when the 10 students sat their Primary Certificate exam. Students aged 10 to 17 all poised to take the most important exam of their life to date. Many children privileged with good families would struggle to pass this test. Then again these kids have survived far worse. In the end all are equal, just ordinary kids desperate to prove themselves, desperate to succeed.

Wrapped up in new winter clothes and fuelled by Malagasy chocolate, hands trembling slightly from cold or perhaps nerves, the 1O students began their test. The heart of Akany Avoko beat with them. Staff and girls prepared a special fish lunch to give them brain fuel. Those who could not help practically simply crossed their fingers or said a quiet prayer. The bell rang and Mme Fanja collected in the exam papers. "How did it go? Was it hard?" The weary students met with enthusiastic interrogation. The hubbub died and the waiting began.

After a long week of waiting it was time for the 10 girls to march down to the town hall to read the blackboard on which so many hopes were pinned. For young girls like Elysée, Maeva, Francine , Solo and Fenosoa a pass would be a much coveted entrance ticket to secondary school. For older girls like Tinah, Nomena and Eliane who were very late to start their schooling this is their last chance to get a school certificate, an essential passport to vocation training and employment. With tight throats they read:

In disbelief the 10 triumphant students ran back to Akany Avoko to be met by the most rapturous applause. You did it girls! We are so proud of you!

8 triumphant students with their teacher outside the Akany Avoko School.

(2 students were too busy celebrating and missed the photo! )



The past year has seen Akany Avoko burgeoning with life. At times the endless streams of new children to care for seemed quite overwhelming. In November we almost caved in under the financial strain but thank God many of you rallied to our rescue and now Akany Avoko is blooming again.
In total we now have 140 children, with a drastic increase in the proportion of small children. We now care for 65 babies and small children under 10 yrs old. The main reason for growing numbers is the national freeze on adoptions, which means that we cannot find new homes for the abandoned babies. Compounding this, other centres have refused to take any abandoned babies as neither the government nor adoptive parents are paying for their keep so the babies all come to us. It is true that babies are very expensive to care for. Milk formula alone costs £3 per day for one premature baby. Add to this day and night staff, to care for them, hand wash nappies, cook food and provide medical care and you are past £100 per month per baby! Typically the babies are underweight and sick.

For example Ginah was recently in intensive care for 2 weeks. At 20 months old her weight dropped to 3.5kilos - the weight of a newborn! We almost thought we had lost her, her veins wouldn't support a drip any more and the doctors had little hope, but somehow she turned a corner and started to eat again.
Thanks to a kind donor we were able to pay Ginah's £300 hospital bill. She is now 6.5kilos, 8 teeth have come through and she is standing up and starting to talk .

Thank God not every child is as fragile as Ginah. Although medical care is not the primary function of Akany Avoko, most of the children arriving here need medical attention. Most common problems result from malnutrition and poor sanitation prior to arrival at Akany Avoko. But we also have to cope with viruses and diseases like malaria which have been particularly prevalent this year. (For example we treated 250 cases of bronchitis and 130 cases of Malaria amongst our children this year.) Several children also needed surgery this year. Operations included a cleft lip, a perforated ear drum, removal of adenoids, removal of cists and an umbilical hernia. To help us keep the children healthy we have an Indian nurse volunteering with us for 2 years. We depend entirely on donations of medicines and money to cover the children's treatment.

Apart from reinforcing our medical team, we have been making efforts to improve the quality of care in a variety of ways. These include improving our primary school and investing in preparation for independence.
September 2005 saw the opening our new block of 6 classrooms. Numbers of primary school children studying at Akany Avoko had risen from 15 to 50 over the past 5 years. Classes were being held in corridors and even in the cow shed. Thanks to donations from the Kreitman Foundation and Casemir Chocolates we were able to build a new block of 6 classrooms, 4 primary classes, 1 language classroom and 1 IT classroom. The children clearly appreciate learning in a good environment as this year we had 100% pass rate for the secondary school entrance exam (CEPE).

We have also been improving the training for the older girls. Finding decent employment in Madagascar is extremely difficult even for the most advantaged children. So equipping our teenagers for independence is no mean feet. This year we recruited new teachers for our domestic science programme including 2 Akany Avoko graduates. The programme now covers: cooking, dressmaking, healthcare, family planning, budgeting, literacy and numeracy, French and English, IT, gardening, & hairdressing. In the New Year we plan to add a careers adviser / business management teacher to our team.

Our vocational training program has been much enhanced by the recent opening of the 'Akany Avoko café'. Run by Akany Avoko graduates and staffed by the domestic science students, this provides real work experience as well as generating income to fund the domestic science programme. Crafts are also on sale in the Café and Tours of Akany Avoko can include environmental or solar cooking or dance demonstrations.

To book email or tel 00261 202244158. We thank Rainbow Tours, the Whitbreads and UNWG for helping to bring the café project to life. Since opening in July we have welcomed about 200 customers. We look forward to many more satisfied customers In 2007.

Of course not everyone will get a job in tourism. Girls who intend to be self -employed have joined our micro-credit scheme, where they are learning how to set up their own small business. Ideally their business plans will be mature when they leave Akany Avoko so they can take a small loan to start their new enterprise.

To further secure the future lives of our graduates we have developed a social housing scheme which we call 'Habitat'. Thanks to a donation from the Glass House Trust we were able to buy a plot of land which we divided into 22 plots of 120 square metres. In collaboration with 2 NGOs we have helped our young people to produce house plans and take out affordable loans to cover the building costs. So far we have built 15 houses. We are looking for new funds to buy the next plot of land for the next 15 Akany Avoko graduates. We would also love to build a water tower and to power the little village with a wind turbine or solar panels both to save money and be a model us sustainability. We would be delighted to receive any support for this.

Preparing children for independence starts the moment they walk into Akany Avoko. That's not to say we don't want them to feel welcome! Instead we must work at every level: physical, educational, psychological, emotional and spiritual to help each child find their equilibrium and achieve their potential. We feel that some children are still held back by unresolved problems from the past. To this end we plan to recruit 2 counsellors and a part-time psychiatrist. We also want to further develop our expressive arts programme as we have found music, theatre, dance, art and sports really help the children to become more happy balanced individuals. Any support for this programme would be very welcome. Some people help by supporting activities whilst others prefer to sponsor an individual child. We are delighted to receive whatever help you can offer.

It is a constant challenge to try to meet the diverse needs of all our children. Thank you for your part in helping each child to reach their potential.

How can I help Akany Avoko?

To make a donation please make a cheque payable to our UK registered charity account "Money For Madagascar AAA" with a note to say it is for Akany Avoko and send it to:

Akany Avoko,
14 Robinson Rd,
United Kingdom.


you can make a bank transfer directly to our Madagascar account:

Account name & address:

"Centre de Reeducation FAFFIP" , Akany Avoko BP29, Ambohidratrimo 105, Madagascar.

Bank Address Bank Of Africa, 3, Ave de L'independence, Soarano, Antananarivo 101, Madagascar.

Bank Code 00009
Branch Code 05500
Account Number 11318800007
Clé RIB 61
IBAN MGMG00009055001131880000761

If you would like information about our child sponsorship scheme or other ways you can help support the children at Akany Avoko then please email us on

Sincerest thanks for your support, from all the staff and children at Akany Avoko.



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