If you would like to volunteer for 2015, please send us your details and a brief description of what you can contribute to
FEEDBACK FROM PREVIOUS TRIPS
‘God’s provision was exactly right’
‘We can be fruitful and productive without being frantic’
‘The quality of relationships on the team and with the people there was great’
‘Starting the day off together and coming together at the end of each day like a community’
‘Everyone on the team was handpicked’
‘Everyone took opportunities for tasks all the time and just doing the task at hand made one feel at peace’
‘We were all professionals together and worked together so that we were like a family bonding’
‘It was a life experience that stretched people’
‘Each day brought fulfilment’
‘It gave a new perspective to life back home’
‘It was humbling because we are so well off in SA and somehow they manage to get by with what is there’
‘It was not about the project but about the people: a shift from task to people’
The Servant Song in Isaiah 42 includes islands in the mission of the Servant King: “In his teaching the islands will put their hope” and “Let them give glory to the Lord and proclaim his praise in the islands”. Jesus ‘ last words to his disciples were that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them and that they would be His witnesses firstly where they were, then to their near and distant neighbours and ultimately to the uttermost parts of the earth. This outreach to Madagascar is part of our response to that declaration.
Over a period of several years, members of the Common Ground Church (CGC) in Cape Town have been on various mission trips to Madagascar. In 2011, members of the health professions in the church were asked to consider a medical mission to this country. A number of people have responded to the call. They believed that exercising their gifts could provide a practical demonstration of God’s grace and provide opportunities to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Meanwhile, Heuric Rakotomalala, a Malagasy paediatric surgeon working in Kenya, had come to CGC for 3 months in 2010 to gain experience at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital and established links with CGC. In July 2011, a group of 5 health professionals went on an exploratory trip to Madagascar including the Antanimalandy Lutheran hospital in Mahajanga where Heuric had returned from Kenya to work. Our visit confirmed and strengthened our relationship with Heuric and we came back convinced of the need for an on-going partnership involving him and others. We have also worked at establishing links with the Tana Christian Church in Antananarivo. On our first visit, the team met Anri-Louise Oosthuizen, an Occupational Therapist working there in a missionary capacity but who feels called to grow the services of allied health professionals in Madagascar. She has subsequently been to Cape Town where we have assisted her to set up links with the OT department at UCT and with local allied health professionals in Common Ground Church. There have been another 5 subsequent trips: four to Mahajanga and one to Antananarivo.
Our vision is to make an investment in the spiritual, mental and physical future health of the Malagasy people. We want to do this through announcing in word and deed the good news of Jesus Christ by empowering people, imparting skills, providing on-going support and opening up new areas of service. This means, in a practical way, that
- We bring our skills and experience as professionals in the health and other sectors.
- We come alongside those working in Madagascar to assist them and share our time and our skills
- We work to establish relationships with people working in Madagascar, including church leaders, health professionals and community leaders who will help strengthen our mission
- To do this we take trips for teams of health professionals and others to Madagascar
- We also provide support the delivery of health care in Madagascar from our base in South Africa including resources and skills development
- By this we expose common grounders that represent a wealth of blessing in terms of professional skills to the challenge and joy of being both blessed and being a blessing in a context vastly different from their own.
“People in need of change, helping people in need of change.” Paul Tripp
Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world, situated 200 miles off the coast of Africa, across the Mozambique Channel in the south Indian Ocean. It was annexed by the French in 1896 and became self-governing within the French Community in 1958 as the Malagasy Republic. It gained full independence in 1960 and became the Republic of Madagascar in 1993 after a new constitution was adopted.
The people of Madagascar are believed to be descended from Indonesians and Africans who reached the island in ancient times.
The capital city is Antananarivo, situated in central Madagascar. There is a population of approximately 22 million people and the predominant languages are Malagasy and French.
Madagascar’s natural resources include a variety of agricultural and mineral resources. Agriculture, including raffia, fishing and forestry, is a mainstay of the economy. Madagascar is among the world’s principal suppliers of vanilla, cloves and ylang-ylang.
The quality of education is weak, producing high rates of grade repetition and dropout. Primary classrooms are crowded, with high average pupil to teacher ratios.
Health problems are related to poverty: there is high incidence of TB, malaria and other infectious diseases. There are some big hospitals in the cities, but primary health care is not readily available. Attendance of a health professional at deliveries is low with resultant high incidence of birth injuries and subsequent disability.
Since Madagascar gained independence from France in 1960, the island’s political transitions have been numerous. The island’s recurrent political crises are often prolonged, with detrimental effects on the local economy, international relations and Malagasy living standards. However, violent crime rates are low, and criminal activities are predominantly crimes of opportunity.
Approximately half of the country’s population practice traditional religion which tends to emphasize links between the living and the razana (ancestors). Taboos play a central role in the lives of tribal Malagasy. In cities and large urban areas taboos, known as “fady”, are disappearing rapidly, but even the city folk observe certain rules.
We fly by plane from Cape Town to Johannesburg and then to Antananarivo. There are two air lines, SA Express and Air Madagascar. Air Madagascar also flies to the northern regions or one can go by car since the road is not too bad, but it is a long trip.
What is accommodation like?
Reasonable accommodation is available with clean rooms and running water. We normally stay in guest houses or at a conference centre if we are in Mahajanga.
What do I eat there?
Everything is available. The probability of contracting gastrointestinal infections is quite high, so we encourage people to eat what had been cooked or peeled, and not to buy food off the street.
Am I at risk for malaria?
Yes, if you go beyond the capital. Doxycycline as prophylaxis is sufficient.
Do I need a visa?
You only need your passport, and visas are purchased at the airport on arrival.
Do I need travel insurance?
It is a good idea, but you can normally get it free if you pay for your flight with your credit card.
What is the climate like?
It is temperate in Anatananarivo, but can be quite hot and humid up north.
Will I need vaccinations?
You will need to be sure that your Tetanus and Hepatitis A vaccinations are up to date.
Will I be able to contact home?
You can set your mobile for overseas travel. Email is not very accessible but texting works well.
What is the currency?
The currency of Madagascar is the Ariary. One rand is equivalent to 225 Ariary. You would convert your Rand to Euros in South Africa and exchange for the local currency when you arrive at the airport.
If you are a doctor, nurse, allied health professional or work in any other area of health, you will have something to do. We try to concentrate on transfer of skills to colleagues there rather than seeing huge patient loads.
If you are not in the health field, there are building teams, and previously non-health people have proved very valuable in assisting in all kinds of ways.
Do we link up with other Christians there?
Yes, we have ties with Tana City Church which is Madagascar flavoured Common Ground. In Mahajanga, teams have attended the local Lutheran Church.
Will I be expected to share the gospel?
We believe that in these outreach trips we are walking the gospel, but there may be opportunities to share your faith on a one-on-one level or to a group.
What will a trip cost?
The airfare from Cape Town to Antananarivo via Johannesburg is approximately R14 000-00. Accommodation, food and transport while in Madagascar can be calculated at about R350 per day. Transport to Mahajanga should be added to this and may cost from R2000 (by road) to R5500 (by air).
All volunteers on these trips are self-sponsored. Individuals find their own funding from their own resources or seek support from their small groups and others. In some cases a member of Common Ground who may not go on a trip offers to support a member of a team, and we then carefully consider the allocation of these donations.
- A team of Allied Health Professionals who will come alongside Anri-Louise in her work. Occupational therapists, physiotherapists and speech therapists are needed. This may be a team or a couple of individuals for a week or longer. Students in their final year are also welcome.
- A Continuing Medical Education trip to Antananarivo. This trip will be made up of medical specialists (including dentists) who will go for 5 – 7 days to share skills with doctors from government and other hospitals. They will provide teaching, consulting and possibly surgery over this period. The time of year will depend on availability of volunteers.
1. Go on a trip – as one who has special skills or just a pair of willing hands
2. Become a ‘Friend of Madagascar’ by:
• Adding your name to the Madagascar mailing list (if it’s not already there)
• Committing to praying for Madagascar volunteers, teams, people working for God’s kingdom in Madagascar
• Helping to sponsor others to go on trips to Madagascar
• Contributing towards specific projects in cash or kind