From Maxville to Madagascar
Good news, laughter, fun and food took centrestage at the 11th annual Madagascar School Project (MSP) Dinner and Silent Auction on Friday, May 10, at the Metcalfe Centre in Maxville.
The sold-out affair with 154 people attending helped raise money for Sekoly Tenaquip, the primary and secondary school nestled in the remote mountains of central Madagascar that Maxville teacher Kathy Lucking founded in 2007. The project’s schools have been largely built with money raised in SD&G.
Emcee for the night was Mackie Robertson, United Church Lay Minister from Bainsville and a longtime friend to MSP, back to host the fundraiser after a few years.
The evening was its typical blend of cross-table socializing, and before the meal, nibbling on hors d'oeuvres and browsing the silent auction items, many of them Malagasy arts and crafts.
Musical entertainment this year was provided by Alexandria music teacher Gabrielle Campbell accompanied by her son Noël on cello and daughter Rachel who sang. Noël and Gabrielle also volunteered as part of Julia Graham’s catering crew serving up a delicious buffet of Malagasy-flavoured food, and Noël had the distinction of walking the highest-bid cake in the cake auction through the tables, showing off Marion Bebbington’s towering “Fountain of Youth” triple-decker blueberry-studded confection that raised over $500.
Also gracing the stage was spe
cial guest pianist Tsantanirina Dajao from Madagascar now living in Montreal, and singer Hannah Faubert, 16, from Loch Garry who studies voice with Ms. Campbell.
In her annual update, Kathy Lucking had more good news from Lova Soa School in Ambatoharanana and Sekoly Tenaquip School in Ambohiborosy. The presentation included a dramatic drone shot of Sekoly Tenaquip that has spread over a hillside sur
rounded by the school’s rice fields. The two schools serve 700 of the most needy children in rural Madagascar.
As Ms. Lucking outlined in her illustrated presentation, the project’s goal is not just to educate children, but to give them the skills they need to become community leaders and agents of social and environmental change.
MSP fundraises full time in Canada to provide Sekoly Tenaquip with the approximately $160,000 CAD needed to meet its annual operating expenses.
The goal is to make Sekoly Tenaquip completely self-sufficient by 2026, an ambition that seems to be on track with the school now generating income by selling eggs and vegetables and rice from its permaculture gardens in nearby communities.
Ms. Lucking also reported on the students who have graduated, training as primary and secondary teachers, who are now back at the school teaching. The school serves 18 surrounding villages and the mingling of children has formed friendships that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.
Reflecting on the success of the dinner on Monday, a tired but delighted Joseline Beaulieu, MSP’s vice-chair who helped organize the night, said, “Over the past 11 years, the MSP supporters have built something wonderful that has saved lives and provided futures. The overall logistics and odds are amazing. What are the chances that a group of people in Canada would have taken under their wing to protect a community of strangers located across oceans, on the other side of the planet, in a remote area?”
“Why do this then?” she asked, responding, “It's innate kindness.”
To learn more about the Madagascar School Project, to read Kathy Lucking’s blog, to donate, or find out how to volunteer and travel to Madagascar to help with the project, visit madagascarschoolproject.com
FUNDRAISING DINNER: Photographer Ang Waterton of Moment.us Photography in Cornwall poses with Madagascar School Project founder Kathy Lucking at the 11th annual MSP Dinner. Ms. Waterton presented an illustrated talk about her recent trip to the schools in Madagascar.