What a great and insightful trip Heather and I had to Madagascar. We are grateful for smooth logistics, for meetings with key people, and for thoughtful and wise people there with whom we could explore the possibilities.
Madagascar is a country of great beauty and rich diversity. For example, Madagascar is home to half of the 150 species of chameleons worldwide – one of which is 2 feet long – Anna would love living there. Yet Madagascar is a country of desperate poverty as well, with 70% of its people living on less than $1 per day.
As you can see, Abi could easily pass for a Malagasy child.
Our contacts there were through Africa Inland Mission, which is the organization we would partner with if we went there. We were very impressed with their intentional vision, thoughtful planning, and well-designed strategy.
We spent two days in the capital, Antananarivo, meeting with missionaries and touring the area and its medical facilities. Then we took a short flight up to Mahajanga, instead of the 11 hour drive. Mahajanga is a small city on the coast with very warm temperatures and very beautiful beaches.
With the help of missionaries in Mahajanga, we explored the possibility of working and teaching in a 360-bed hospital which is run by the government. This hospital is one of the primary training sites for over 300 eager medical students and about 75 interns who study at the University of Mahajanga, but they have a shortage of teaching physicians. We were warmly invited by the administration of the university to come and work and teach.
The language situation is a bit daunting. First we would need to learn French (which we would use primarily with colleagues and students in the hospital and medical school). Then we would also need to learn to speak Malagasy (which would be used to talk with patients and everyone else). That could require a year in France, and maybe another 8 months of dedicated language time in Madagascar before starting work.
Overall, Madagascar is a place of great potential where we could be involved in wholistic medical work and significant teaching. It seems that there is a rising tide of development interest in Mahajanga, and it would be exciting to be a part of that momentum.
So it looks like it will be a tough decision to decide which country we will go to. Hopefully God will call others to work at these other sites. The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.