Back to the Rotary Club of Lewes!

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Yesterday, I returned to my host club, the historic Rotary Club of Lewes, established in 1923, with its renowned group of wonderful Rotarians. Instantly, I was offered countless drinks and welcomed into conversations. Meetings are appropriately set in the Sheriff’s room of the White Hart Hotel: where Thomas Paine engaged in early debates and conceptualized the Declaration of Independence.

The Rotary Club of Lewes has maintained a most impressive Rotary presence for almost 90 years. Regardless of which way they march into future years, I am very proud to be their honorary female member. Lots of entertaining bickering, plenty of character, and tons of passion. And after so many visits to different clubs, it was really nice to join in as President Jim Hatfield led his home club. I am humbled to be so lucky to have such an encouraging and active counselor, who is never without a positive spirit, and an eager attitude to add richness to my experience.

Something really special, was that the Rotary Club of Lewes also had along a special guest. Dr. Alison Jolly came, warmly welcomed in by all the members. Jim gave her a really lovely introduction, and I couldn’t have been more honored to have her along! She is the only non-Rotary member, aside from Dr. Patricia Wright, to ever attend Rotary with me. Dr. Patricia Wright came with me in 2010 to cotalk to my sponsor club, the Rotary Club of Larchmont, before they even sponsored my application. I remember having told Alison about that day a while back, by phone. It was so amazing to have Dr. Alison Jolly with me, here, at my host club in Lewes. As a part of both the Madagascar-obsessed community and the Rotary world, it really doesn’t get any better than that. So, photos:

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Much of the photos here were taken by the White Hart’s personal copy of the Declaration of Independence. And others include Past President, Peter Boyse, who took it upon himself to entertain both of us guests with a great sense of humor and kindness.

Much thanks for a wonderful day!


Rotary Club of Seaford

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Really lovely visit to the Rotary Club of Seaford. Those at my table even knew a fair amount about Madagascar’s biodiversity. I was very impressed.

We had a great visit, were welcomed so warmly, and catered to on every level. They brought me over a white board upon request, and I was even served coffee by the President himself, Isla Sitwell. I also had the fortune of sitting next to Past District Governor John Preddy, who dazzled me with great stories and a really nice vote of thanks. And the photos…

So Larchmont, it looks like we acquired another flag today.

Thank you to the Rotary Club of Seaford, and of course, to Jim Hatfield, for again enduring another one of my talks in great company!

The Story of the Hummingbird

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Today would have been the 72nd birthday of Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan woman who cared about life beyond her own, and mobilized what I think may be the single greatest peace building movement so far, simply by doing the best she could…

So, in honor of her birthday, the story of the Hummingbird:

Wangari Mathai started the Green Belt Movement in Kenya, where she taught women to plant trees, noticing their watershed, agriculture, and wildlife diminishing, hillsides eroding, and their livelihoods becoming more deeply impoverished. By teaching these women to plant trees, they were able to teach each other, and grow roots for a sustainable peace.

How do you hope to carry on her legacy?

Vao Vao, Big News.

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Big news. I will be returning to Madagascar.
Thanks to UNICEF, I will be at Ranomafana National Park working with the Centre ValBio education team, developing the Saturday Classrooms and Junior Rangers programs, this June and July. We will begin to put lessons from these past five years of my professional development to the test. My aim is to help the teachers unleash their own creativity, so they can use their knowledge and expertise to guide Malagasy children, leading the way for Madagascar’s future. Of course, it’s also thanks to those without whom I wouldn’t be here, including the Rotary, Pat Wright, Alison Jolly, ICTE/MICET/CentreValBio, and many, many others. I am the lucky barer of many admirable mentors.
Good news from Ranomafana. I just spoke to researchers at Ranomafana National Park, and it looks like their call for help drew in some initial support for Cyclone Irina: Cyclone Irina. If you’d like to get involved, do consider donating: donate here! Another way you can help these communities is by helping me create an education resource library. I would love to rally Rotary around this project.
It would be great to get Malagasy teachers education resources, so they can practice education as an art, and an ongoing, reflective practice. Centre ValBio is a renowned international research station in the rainforest of Ranomafana that works in hundreds of impoverished communities. Research available at the facility is primarily biological. With over 65 employees working in surrounding communities, it has the potential to become a leading research center for social sciences, as well. The library will provide an incredible start- with research to guide practice and collaborative education development. And would undoubtably pose a lasting impact for these teachers, communities, fellow researchers, and socially-oriented study abroad students. Do contact me if you are interested.
Not really sure what we were trying to capture, but knowing our lives would never be the same. (Last few minutes at Centre ValBio, Fall 2007)
I am so grateful to everybody I’ve met along the way. Couldn’t have made it here alone, and none of the road forward will be mine alone either. So, thank you for all your support. It keeps me going. And fellow dreamers, mora mora (slowly slowly). Anything’s possible.
Love to all,

Visit to Horley Club.

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Jim and I had a really nice visit to the Horley Club this Thursday.

They were very interested in learning about Madagascar’s conservation, education, and poverty, and they were quite enthusiastic about getting involved! A very pleasant visit, a banner to share with the Larchmont club, the kindest words, and endearing British humor.

Here’s some highlights ala my personal paparazzi, Jim Hatfield:

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Thanks Horley Club!

Madagascar’s Silky Sifaka

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A friend of mine from the Madagascar research community, Erik Patel, is the star of this BBC series special on the plight of the beautiful Silky Sifaka (also known as the ‘Ghosts of the Forest’), found only in the forest of Marojejy, and narrated by the one and only David Attenborough. Please watch. It’s eye opening account and beautiful account of the complexity and conflicts facing the future of Madagascar and one of the top 25 most endangered primates. As Erik says, they are the heart and soul of this forest. How can we spend our lifetime not protecting it?

Watch here: Madagascar, Lemurs, and Spies


Cyclone Irina hits Ranomafana

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Dear Everyone,
As some of you know, Ranomafana is where I’ll be pursuing my thesis, and the root of my dedication to Madagascar. But it will be difficult to help children actively improve their lives through education, when their basic needs are so severely threatened. That’s where I could use your help. Cyclone Irina has recently hit hard in the region of Ranomafana. Many lost their lives, including a number of children, and many villagers have lost their agricultural plots (80% of them damaged) for the season, and thousands lost their homes (i.e. in Kelilalina, 33 out of 50 homes have been washed away). Centre ValBio research institution is the leading NGO in the region, and they are hoping to be able to supply these families with food and temporary homes. They also wish to honor the dead’s family, as ceremonies for the dead are a really significant piece of Malagasy society and culture.
Centre ValBio will work with the Madagascar National Parks and the Mayor’s office for relief. Dr. Patricia C. Wright, the mother of Ranomana National Park, relayed how much support would mean to their ability to help these affected people. As far as support, you are welcome to visit the Centre ValBio site at: www.centrevalbio.org and consider making a donation to “The Madagascar Emergency Relief Fund” (DONATE BUTTON). Any bit you can give will be greatly appreciated and would mean a lot to me personally.
Warm wishes,

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