2007-02-08 MADAGASCAR

Redeeming nature

Lately, the readings of the liturgy have put us in communion with God who created the heavens and the earth, light, nature in all its beauty, the plants of the earth with their fruits and their seeds in the fruit, the fish that abound in the sea and the flight of the birds in the sky, animals in all their species and mankind in the image of God, king of the universe. And God saw that this was very good and he filled his creation with his love and his blessing. The adventure started with the blessing.

During this same time, we have received from the south of Madagascar good news about man taking care of creation and helping it to refind its splendour. The news comes to us from Brother Tiana Rajaonarison, a Marist. It is simple, but for those who know the High Plateaux of the Iorombe and their poor and nearly desert environment, the news is full of hope, especially if we think that it is the children of a nomadic tribe who are going to realise this.

It concerns a project that will be carried out from March and which consists of planting trees and mango trees. All of the students opened by Brother Tiana, at least twenty schools, will plant three trees each and will be in charge of watering them and following their growth until the young plant is strong enough to fend for itself. The students are going to plant mango trees also, 3600, which means fruit for the future for a tribe that often knows famine.

This campaign of reforestation is the first in this region that is rather hostile to trees; it is a symbolic gesture for the extent of the territory, but it will probably become an annual activity. It is going to give children the habits of safeguarding, respect and love of nature where bushfires often reign and thus means the death of the trees and vegetation.

In order to better understand the value of this campaign of reforestation, let?s say that the region of the Iorombe is the homeland of the Bara, a nomadic tribe who have lived there with large herds of zebu, moving around the spaces of this immense semi-desert high-plateau. Until a few years ago, the children did not go to school. They were very busy in following the livestock. But times change: the zebu lost their value, they were especially the object of raids which practically stripped the Bara of their richness.

Some friends from Switzerland, guided by Brother Jean Claude Christe, a Marist, took the projects of Brother Tiana to heart and financed a campaign of distributing rice for the people of this tribe who had suffered from a long drought.

In this setting, Brother Tiana proposed to the Bara, by whom he was accepted as one of their chiefs, the education of their children, the opening of schools, the introduction of hygiene, dispensaries, toilets, the digging of wells for water to stabilise this tribe, and now the planting of trees which aims at enriching the environment.

On a planet whose climate is changing, warming and crying out the suffering of nature, the man who plants a tree is worthy of admiration and of help.

Brother Giovanni Maria Bigotto.


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