A lot of exciting things have happened at AiNA soa over the past few months, we have covered hundreds of kilometers, held many training courses and had the opportunity to present our work in a special setting.

Invitation from the Swiss Embassy

At the end of 2023, we had the opportunity to meet the current Swiss ambassador to Madagascar at the embassy, which is located in Antananarivo. The leaders of AiNA soa had the chance to explain our organization and the work of AiNA soa to him. He shared that a delegation from the Department for Development and Cooperation (DDC) will be traveling to Madagascar in spring 2024 to gain an overview of Swiss NGOs on the ground.

In May, we have received an invitation to the meeting, which took place on 12 June with many Swiss organizations active in Madagascar. A total of 23 organizations were present. AiNA soa was represented by Jimmy, our accountant and HR manager, who has been part of AiNA soa since day one. He made excellent use of the five minutes allotted to him for his pitch. He addressed the attendees personally and gave a brief presentation on the problem of inadequate primary care and then went into more detail about our strategy and the team behind the work. This was not only exciting for the DDC delegates, but also for other organizations that did not know us yet and are interested in first aid training.

For their part, the two members of the delegation, Martin Hasler (Swiss NGO Program Officer) and Baptiste Corthay (Finance and Administration Specialist), explained the cooperation strategy for the years 2025-2028 as well as support opportunities. The DDC is committed to poverty reduction and sustainable development. Their goal of “saving lives and providing high-quality basic services – particularly in the areas of education and health” is exactly in line with our ambitions.

“The experience of presenting AiNA soa’s project in front of a Swiss ambassador and DDC delegate was a great challenge as it was the first time I was in such a setting.

I never thought I could give a presentation in less than 5 minutes. Fortunately, I was supported by a fantastic team; doubts, stress and fears slowly gave way to courage and positivity. I can’t thank my staff enough for their support, especially our President Jacqueline Ribeli, who persevered to make sure I could fulfill the requirement.”

On the road in eastern Madagascar

While driving to our current project region, our team drove past a car that had been involved in an accident. The car accident occurred on National Road 25, a particularly winding and busy road as it is the connection between the elevated highlands and the coastal region. The blue car involved was a taxi-brousse, a frequently used means of transportation (it is a kind of long-distance bus). It collided with another vehicle on a bend. We do not know how many passengers were injured and whether first responders were available.

During a training session, participants were asked to simulate a situation and apply what they normally do in their community in the event of a burn. This picture, for example, shows people rushing to spit on the burn victim as a traditional first aid measure.

“Both pictures summarize the situation that the Malagasy population faces on a daily basis: the frequency of accidents and the lack of health knowledge.”

We set ourselves the goal of training at least 480 people in the central-eastern and south-eastern parts of Madagascar this year. Four districts are to be reached: Vangaindrano, Farafangana, Manakara and Mananjary. To ensure that we can reach all the people, the people will be trained in two rounds, i.e. we will visit each district twice this year. The participants come from a variety of villages and have different levels of education.

Even people who actually have training in the healthcare sector benefit from our training courses, as the following feedback shows.

“We learned a lot about first aid. It was about knowing how to save people’s lives. First aid is not just for doctors. A normal person can also save a life. The training was very good. We were able to learn new things in the two days: for example, how to save people after a car accident or from drowning in water. In every situation there is something you can do to save lives.

                                                           Andrianjafy Mirana Valiantsoa, nurse in training

Visit from Switzerland

Fortunately, we also received a visit from Switzerland. The fellowship was very enriching and strengthened our relationships and helped us get to know each other. We were very happy to see Nicole again. In addition, Anke and her husband traveled to Madagascar for the first time, which was very special as they have been supporting Nicole and AiNA soa since its inception.

The visit enabled them to experience first-hand the conditions under which the Malagasy people live on a daily basis. This is certainly a great advantage for the Board’s future work.

After all, the Board is doing everything it can to support the Malagasy team in achieving our common goals. In this sense, the members of the Board are metaphorically speaking our guardian angels.  They took time during the visit to share their experiences with us. In addition, they planned a workshop to optimize communication in our office. They identified various factors that can hinder clear and fluent communication and identified ways to eliminate them. The aim was to avoid misunderstandings that could hinder the development of the organization and its employees.

We really appreciated the time. It was a blessed time, which was also an exciting change from the daily work routine for us. Of course, we also really appreciated the chocolate and Swiss cheese. :D

We are now looking forward to the coming months and are excited to see what God has in store for us for the rest of this year.