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We had a lot of paperwork to do in town today and while I was getting some stuff printed Lora and David were waiting at the government office to get Lora's signature notarized. They saw a big procession go by, parading around a thief they'd caught. (It wasn't clear whether he was a pick-pocket or if he'd stolen someone's purse.) They were literally marching him down the street beating on him, then they marched him back to the police building (still beating on him) and left him there. Lora said he looked like he was probably already suffering a concussion, as he seemed very disoriented and he was bleeding from his head.

We hear this sort of thing happens regularly when criminals are caught here in Madagascar, as most people don't trust the police to do an adequate job. (And it's widely reported that a sufficient bribe will get anyone out of any crime.) So I recognize the community's desire to seek justice and I certainly didn't appreciate being pick-pocketed here in town just a couple months ago (and then Lora had her purse slashed open two days later). I'd like that sort of thing to stop altogether. But I can't help feeling bad for the guy even still. While "justice" in the US may not always deserve the name, I do appreciate that we in the US have stricter standards about how punishments work and who gets to decide on them. I would love even more to have rehabilitative systems for all criminals, rather than a punitive system. Madagascar's certainly a long ways from any of that though. I hope the guy survives.
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5 days ago

Today was the Presidential election here in Madagascar (potentially just the first round of two). People here in town generally seemed very excited about it and hopeful they might achieve some positive change in their country.

Seeing as how yesterday was a big round of elections in the US, I find it interesting to compare the differences.

In the US, it seems like most people are either red or blue and they practically hate the others and think a win for the other side is the end of the country. Even when it's "not so bad", it's like they're a sports fanatic and one of the colors is their home team so they try everything they can to make sure they win. To me, it seems like this has caused many people to excuse many terrible and despicable things done or said by representatives of their party (and this applies to both parties) all in the interest of "rooting for the home team", or making sure their "enemies" don't get the win. Personally, I don't see that as any way to achieve anything positive in our country's governance, and I think we're seeing the consequences of that as a country.

Here in Madagascar, people don't seem nearly so divided politically. If this were the US, it should be that the majority of people are loudly unified in their choice (as most cities/states in the US are overwhelmingly on the side of one party or the other), and a small minority might be vocally resistant. However, here every other person has a different choice and they're almost shy about mentioning who. I think their shyness about their choice is likely because politics have historically achieved so little good in Madagascar that there's no strong choice anyone can be confident in, and so sharing who they chose has a sub-text of, "well, I tried! I can always hope!" And having 30+ Presidential candidates to choose from in the national election (each of whom usually forms a new party for their candidacy) certainly does help reduce the Team Red vs. Team Blue mentality. So I'm sure there's a lot of circumstantial reasons for Malagasy people to typically be far less partisan-oriented in their politics. Either way, it *is* a refreshing difference from the majority of the rhetoric I hear coming from the US.

That's not to say I think it's wrong for people to generally believe one party is "better" than another. It's important to have strongly-founded values and try to live them out, including with your voting. However, I think history shows us clearly that there is *no* party that consistently does good, or that consistently avoids scandal, or that consistently has good morals and values. So even if you generally prefer the stated intentions of one party over another, I think a healthy perspective from political history should give us more of a Malagasy approach: "well, I tried! I can always hope!" And I think that would also help reduce our hatred for the "other" - both the "other" who's our neighbor who simply voted differently from you, and even the "other" who represents the other party at the highest levels of governance and who may not govern the way you want him/her to, and who may very well make plenty of mistakes and actually be a terrible person... but there's always the chance your candidate would do the same thing if they were in that position. No candidate ever follows through 100% on what they promise. That's what I see in politics, both in the US and in Madagascar. And adamantly "picking a side" seems to tear both decent people and their national governments apart more than it ever helps.
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1 week ago

Matimu's first day of school here went great! His teacher seems very friendly and they were very ready to incorporate him in their class. Matimu said it was a good school because they didn't do as much "just sitting there" as the school on Nosy Mitsio - instead they actually taught a few things today. (Only three things by his count, but to him that was a great improvement, haha!) He already made a couple of good friends and he said one boy took him to the little snack sellers that set up next to the school's fence and the boy used all his money to buy candy for Matimu (and none for himself!). So sweet! Matimu is ready now to bring his own money to school tomorrow and buy candy for all his friends. :-D We're happy he had such a good start here! It seems like it'll also provide good opportunities for us to engage in conversations with other parents in the community, as we already had a few good opportunities today. ... See MoreSee Less

3 weeks ago


Comment on Facebook

This is sooo cool! 💕💕💕

Do they teach in French or Malagasy?

Tomorrow is Matimu's first day of school here in Ambilobe. So please pray it goes well, that he enjoys himself, learns some new stuff, and can be a positive impact on the other kids and his teachers. Thanks! ... See MoreSee Less

3 weeks ago


Comment on Facebook

Cheer up Matimu...!

We visited the Assemblies of God church here in Ambilobe this morning and really enjoyed it. They had a women's choir / dance group on stage and they were all wearing matching outfits in the traditional style. They also did a couple of songs in the local rhythm/style (though most were from a different part of the country). Unfortunately, they didn't do anything in the local language - that seems to be the hardest part for most local Christians and churches to consider. Still, the lady who preached shared a good message and we enjoyed the service and meeting people afterwards. ... See MoreSee Less

3 weeks ago

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