Children in a rural village in the outskirts of Antsiranana.
Madagascar, the fourth largest island in the world, is located just to the east of the African continent, adjacent to South Africa. Madagascar has two official languages (Malagasy and French) thanks to French colonialism which ended in 1960. In the fifty years that have passed since independence, Madagascar has had a fairly rough and tumble time; this is partially due to an increase in population, transient political powers, and a large influx of foreign aid money.
In recent years, the political situation has become more stable. However, the transient nature of the current government has caused several western countries to withdraw most non-essential aid from the country. In a land where at one point, 75% of each person's income came from foreign aid, this has been a huge blow to the Malagasy economy.
Additionally, the government has recently been cutting funds to education; in March of 2009 the government's education budget was slashed by thirty percent. Two-thirds of the population lives under the international poverty line (1.25 USD/day) and health care services are limited country-wide.
On a positive note, Madagascar is known as one of the major biodiversity hot-spot in the world. More than 80% of its plant and animal life is endemic to the country and can be found nowhere else in the world; this causes a huge tourism interest every year and indirectly accounts for one of the country's biggest money makers.
We currently do not have offices in Madagascar, and conduct supply donations and outreach when funding becomes available. We are actively grant writing to hire local staff and increase our capacity in country.