A Mission in Madagascar
BY: Hannah Lupse
Madagascar. An ambitious tourist destination for those seeking rest and refuge on an island just off the South African coast. Plants and animals native to no other place on Earthflourish and flit about, what more could one ask of a tropical paradise?
Perhaps a lack of starving individuals walking between the baobab trees would be more convenient. Cleaning the obvious aftermath of a coup d’etat could lighten the place up. Madagascar, like many other “exotic” countries, is apparently too far away for the average individual to see its struggles.
After two political crises in the short span of 8 years (2001-2009), the country’s economy and overall stability has declined dramatically and left 70% of the population living below the poverty line. Public works and projects fail to remedy this, as severe faults in both infrastructure and transportation serve to further deprive citizens.
To make a good out of the bad, Madagascar qualifies for priority aid under the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA), thus receiving $95.2 million in U.S. aid in 2019 alone. This massive donation resulting from years of effort was distributed towards disaster/development assistance, global health, and food security -- all areas that the Madagascar government grapples with today.To say the scale of the aid received is not promising would be a gross lack of acknowledgement towards the initiatives the U.S. has taken, however, the large donations pale in comparison to the true scale of the crisis.
Fortunately, most of said contributions are given by the U.S. through “non-governmental organizations, community associations, and other private groups”3, one of them being the U.S. Agency for International Development3. USAID Madagascar has been operating since 1984, providing emergency food aid and funding towards agricultural production. Since 1990, USAID has taken on a conservational role and donated towards Madagascar’s national parks and climbed the ranks to become one of the country’s largest international donors.
USAID was born as a result of the Kennedy administration, with President John F. Kennedy recognizing and pushing for the importance of providing foreign aid3. Since then the organization has only grown and become a reliable partner in charity efforts.
President John F. Kennedy is known for his ambition and policy successes despite significant backlash from both Congress and citizens during his presidency. Whether it be pushing to send a man on the moon and make history or juggling Cold War relations, Kennedy’s actions were inarguably bold even if out of necessity. One may argue that such tenacity and drive is akin to only the greatest of the great, that perhaps his connections or genetics somehow propelled him to a level of success unattainable for the rest of us. Wealth and upbringing aside, Kennedy possessed an obvious desire to help others, a desire made tangible through the creation of the Peace Corps or the aforementioned USAID. At the end of the day, Kennedy made do with what he had to inspire change and charity -- he just happened to have more resources than the average individual.
Likewise, the most anyone can do is use whatever they have to achieve their goals. All it takes from anyone is a genuine wish to provide assistance to those in need and a rise to action to start the process of changing lives, no matter how many. Not everybody has to start their own initiative, since strength comes in numbers. We wouldn’t have powerful charity organizations without ample volunteers and partners. Whether it’s a lemonade stand or a nonprofit organization, those privileged enough to not spend time worrying about their living conditions can repurpose those minutes, hours, etc. towards ensuring others can eventually feel as stable as any human being deserves to.
So, you’re motivated. Chances are, if you’re already on this website, you have been from the very start. You know that what’s happening in Madagascar is unacceptable, how can you help?
USAID currently offers partnerships with various organizations and accepts applications for volunteers. Individuals part of nonprofits could seek partnership, or at the very minimum visit its website in an effort to learn more about the issues currently faced by the Malagasy people. GoFundMe’s can be started, masks or care kits made and shipped, donations sent to organizations such as USAID or HELP Madagascar (links listed below). Even if you are not in a position to be able to do so, spreading the word can easily inspire others who are.
Kicks4Keeps believes that where there’s a will there’s a way, and where there’s a need, there’s a hand to help. Many teenagers face the classic dilemma of “Well I’m just a kid, what can I do?” So did we. The question “What can I do?” has been the start of everything great. No matter where your heart and life leads you, find a way to give back to a cause you find truly honorable.
Madagascar is a great place to start.
For more information on other humanitarian crises across the globe that YOU can get involved with, check out our other articles on the Kicks4Keeps website.