Friday, October 30, 2009

Everyone has been busy doing their independent research projects, but it’s nice to get together during breakfast and dinner to talk about our days. About half of the students are doing their projects on lemurs, others are doing birds, insects, medicinal plants, food, music and education. I am researching the agricultural practices in the villages surrounding Ranomafana and looking at how farming affects the economy, the nutrition of villagers and the environment. I’ve visited 4 villages so far and interviewed 38 farmers. I have been able to go inside the small houses made of mud with straw roofs, which has been very interesting.
Last Saturday night we went to a little benefit to raise money for the children’s library in town. Our chef’s band played Malagasy music and appetizers were served. We didn’t know about this library before then. The building was made out of flattened bamboo shoots and filled with storybooks. French and English classes are taught there for any child who would like to go. It was a great night and I’ll be visiting the library more often now.
On Sunday we were invited to watch traditional music and dance performed by the villagers in Ambatalahay. Everyone in the village came out to watch and it was an exciting afternoon. Afterwards we went into a smaller building so that Dali Lera, a 103-year old man, could play his guitar-like instrument that only he knows how to play. He sang and played a few songs for us and was very happy that we came to see him.
Two lemurs that people were keeping illegally are being held here at Centre ValBio while they are being rehabilitated and then released back into the wild. One is the Golden Bamboo Lemur and the other is a Dwarf Lemur. They are very scared so we’re not really allowed to go look at them, but one girl has been observing their behavior as her project, and she has been keeping us updated on how they are doing.
We are all looking forward to the huge party in town on Saturday that Centre ValBio puts together every year. It will be a party to raise money for ValBio’s staff association that does many good things for the surrounding villages including buying Christmas presents for all the children every year. So we’ll be celebrating Halloween during the day, but changing into our party clothes at night. Everyone in the village is invited to this popular event, as long as they buy a ticket, so it will be a very interesting experience!
I hope everyone has a Happy Halloween and don’t forget to vote on Election Day!