Society Matters | Volume 28 No. 1 | Autumn 2018

Volume 28 No. 1 | Autumn 2018 4 Divine Word Missionaries hard at work in rural Madagascar The Divine Word Missionaries are working hard in rural Madagascar to improve the lives of the local people, from young children, through education, to adults through justice and peace initiatives and women’s health projects, as well as reafforestation of the environment. The people of Madagascar are recovering from a political crisis and subsequent instability which occurred some years ago, and which caused greater poverty among the Malagasy people. Fr Pius Pandai Dosi SVD writes in a request for funding assistance that education is one of the most desperately needed building blocks to create a better future. “The majority of the people here cultivate rice and vegetables during the rainy season and some of them make bricks during the dry season,” he says. Fr Pius says the Blessed Victoire Rasoamanarivo school, located in Antanimena, a mission station of the Parish of St Tammaro, Anosindrafilo, in the Diocese of Ambatondrazaka, around 310km from the capital of Madagascar started in 2012 with 30 students, but has expanded to 95 students. However, to cater for the growth in enrolment, more classrooms are needed. “We believe that having these new classrooms, our students can have a better atmosphere for their growth,” Fr Pius says. Meanwhile, in other areas of Madagascar, the Divine Word Missionaries are involved in a range of development projects to help improve the lives of the people. Fr Rego Peter SVD, the Parish Priest of Vohilava in the Diocese of Mananjary says one such project promotes peace and justice initiatives. “Many people in the rural areas are illiterate and they don’t know their rights in civil society,” Fr Rego says. “In most cases, they are not treated accordingly by the authorities. Therefore, we organise lawyers, or someone from the justice office to give them some awareness of their rights and encourage them to fight against unjust acts or corruption.” When it comes to the Integrity of Creation, the SVD is also active in Vohilava Parish, promoting a local reafforestation program, through the growing and distribution of seedling plants. “We have a reafforestation program which encourages our parishioners and the people in the rural areas to plant trees,” Fr Rego says. “We distribute some trees to our parishioners so that they can plant them, as there is a need to plant more trees to ensure a good environment.