The Children’s House in Mandraka

After the success of the program “Coloring for all”, and your many encouragements, here is the  Zen Garden Cosmetics new ethical project for 2018.

First of all, I am pleased to announce that we will reiterate the collect of coloured pencils and the creation of a  personalised coloring book for Madagascan children. Colouring is a wonderful way to convey important messages – among them how it’s important to cherish and product our natural wealth. If it is too late to educate parents, we still have many opportunities to reinforce this message among the youngest. We will resume our collection this summer (just after the end of the school year) and then in October. Everything will then be transported to Madagascar in January 2019.

After meeting with these children, we also decided that we should do more – especially for children from 1 to 6 years old. Faced with the absence of kindergartens in villages, we decided to work on the opening of the “Children’s House” ( la Maison des Enfants). Our action will focus in the small village of Mandraka.

What is the Children’s House?

Those who know a little Montessori probably know the term “House of Children”. Although this project is not a literal application of Montessori education, we are inspired by its principles. It’s about creating a space for children 1-6 years old to explore, learn and express their creativity. We will also teach them the basics of cleanliness, recycling and waste management. If the means allow it we will set up a small canteen.

This is not really a kindergarten, since there will be no teacher or fixed program and all levels will share the same space. On this type of project, all risks must be mitigated. Based on the reality on the ground we know that training a mistress is not sustainable. First of all, being mistresses requires real competences and experience. Then finding a person with these skills in the village of Mandraka is difficult. It is also essential to manage the risks related to human resources and thus limit closures due to the absence of a person.

Children who come to the Children’s House will be able to choose the activities they wish to explore themselves. They will be able to express themselves as a child. There will be supervisors who will be there to explain the activities if necessary and ensure their safety. We also want to organize fun and educational activities outside the walls of the House of Children adapted to their environment.

Why the Children’s House?

In many villages in Madagascar, having of a primary school is a chance. There are still many villages without schools – forcing thousands of children to walk miles every day to learn to read and write. In these same villages, nursery school is simply non-existent. Malagasy public education offers this option only very rarely locations. Even though one of the best places of education is the family home, the precarious housing of these disadvantaged families offers very few opportunities for these children. Parents – who themselves have not benefited from an educational setting  – often have very little to teach to their children or do not feel up to this difficult task. All this is a shame when we know that children’s brain are sponges, especially at this age.

What are the main steps of this project?

We are currently looking at a space in Mandraka that will house the Children’s House. For this project to be a success in the long term, we then need to work on two aspects:

  • Collect toys and equipment and eventually raise funds to equip the space,
  • Find a regular cash entry specifically for this House of Children for it to continue and improve over time. At this level we already have some ideas that we will share in our next article.

Building this project with you

Even with all the will of the world, it would be difficult for us to set this project up alone. I’m not talking only about material. I also speak of ideas to make this place can be a real space of creativity, of joy, with the required safety standards. We also need ideas for the various activities to organize.

So today, I am asking you to co-create this project with us with your ideas and advice. Do not hesitate to tell us:

  • What activities could we offer to these children? (sandpit, coloring workshops, sandbox, …)
  • What do you think is the material needed?
  • What are the aspects we need to think about?

As a reminder, the project is set in a rural environment. We are looking for ideas adapted to this environment and that can blow their mind!

To help us, leave a comment at the end of this article. This will make it easier for us to collate and manage all your valuable ideas.

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