Fighting through Madagascar’s rain forest for ten days and visiting 14 villages; that is true pioneer work. That is exactly what Sam and Paolo intended to do.
In order to pick up the pioneers Sam and Paolo (name changed) in Mananjary, I had to undertake a 1 ½ hour flight to the east coast. Under a clear, steel blue sky, we started with them and their equipment on board for the half-hour flight. We soon realized that we would not be having good weather for the entire route. A few minutes later, we were surrounded by heavy rain and thunderstorms. Nevertheless, we were able to find our way to the village of Kianjanomby. I admired Sam and his Madagascan colleague for their readiness to walk from one village to the next on foot for ten days, without any contact and completely cut off from the outside world. Unfortunately, nowadays there aren’t many people around who are willing to take such hardships upon themselves. Ten days later, I picked them up again at the agreed location.
Here are some excerpts from Sam’s report:
The goal was to reach eleven villages on this trip. Over ten days we I hiked over 70 km and reached fourteen villages. We waded through streams and rivers and hiked up mountains for hours on end with no shade available making it hot and treacherous. We used hand-pulled bacs, or barges, to cross the water and when no bac was available for crossing, we hiked through a shallow in the river.
Only in Sahanimony, the most northern village we would hike to, did they not trust us. They told us that no one in the village is literate and therefore didn’t want any literatures because they were afraid of us.
We met many sick people in the villages. For example, Kalazom who burned her arm to the bone two years ago. (This often happens because the people sleep in their huts next to the open fireplaces because of the cold nights.) I cleaned the wound, applied antibiotic cream, and dressed the arm. I gave her the entire tube of medicine and explained how to use it daily until it healed …