Big Rewards from a Little Help in Madagascar

Madagascar help

The SALOHI program is helping people like Juliette Rahantanirina to improve their lives by creating big returns from a little assistance. Photo by Mariely Neris Rodriguez for CRS

Making ends meet isn’t an easy task for many families in Madagascar. It’s even harder when your husband heads south in search of work and then never returns.

This is what happened to Juliette Rahantanirina, a 40-year-old mother of five. Adding insult to injury, someone broke into her home last year and stole the few items her family possessed. Life became even more of a struggle, forcing her two oldest children to quit school to help the family survive.

Each day, Juliette and her two oldest take on any type of menial job they can find to earn a bit of money to try to meet the family’s needs. Some days they wash clothes; on other days they transport rocks to sell from local quarries.

This year, Juliette is much more hopeful about the future. She is learning new agricultural techniques, including compost production and small animal husbandry, through the Strengthening and Accessing Livelihood Opportunities for Household Income (SALOHI) program, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by a local Catholic Relief Services partner.

Juliette has many plans. For 10 months, her family is receiving rations of corn-soy blend from the program, letting her save money she would usually have to spend on food. She plans to use these savings to plant corn and soy beans on a small piece of land her family owns.

Juliette has also developed a five-month plan to buy chickens, both for the eggs and to sell older chickens for profit. She was very proud when her family was able to buy their first chicken. The five-month plan also entails buying a piglet with her savings and saving even more to buy additional animals.

The savings have also allowed Juliette to take care of her first priority: her children. She has paid school expenses for her two middle children, and she is very happy that her children don’t go hungry anymore. Proud to be able to plan for the future, Juliette is hopeful that the money she is saving will soon allow her family to lead even healthier, more productive lives.

- Reported by Mariely Neris Rodriguez, CRS’ Boston College Graduate School of Social Work Intern

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