A charity transforming the lives of disadvantaged people in Madagascar is raising funds for a new school to be built.
Ripon City Councillor Stuart Martin MBE is the Chairman of Trustees for TASC Madagascar, the Tossing a Starfish Charity, and has been involved for 17 years.
TASC has previously funded the rebuilding of a primary school for 320 children in Maromby with partners The Adsum Foundation, and is also in the process of building a second in Salohy - but now exciting plans for a third school are already under way.
Coun Martin said: “People in Madagascar are in the worst situation that people could possibly imagine. They are not looking for charity, but we are just helping to give them a hands up.
“When we opened the first school, you should have seen the smiles on people’s faces, they just lit up.
"The difference that the school has made in their community has been incredible. The headteacher was blown away, and they were moved to tears. We opened it in the summer last year, and all the children have school books.
“You could just see how much it meant to them.
“We are hoping to build a school a year for 10 years, depending on funding and donations.
“We are over 5,000 miles away from Madagascar, and yet we all feel very close to the people that we are helping.
“If someone would like to donate, not only can I guarantee that every penny will be used effectively to make a difference and help people over in Madagascar, I can also show people exactly who they are helping.
“What makes our charity special is that we do know so many people over there, we can see directly the impact that people’s donations have.
“Education changes lives, and going to school gives children skills that will help them throughout their lives and improve their situations.”
The charity met and negotiated with Madagascan government representatives and agreed that the state will provide at least two paid and trained teachers for the school in Salohy, which will open in Spring this year.
TASC will also fund two teachers for a five year period. A minimum of 120 children are expected to start when the school opens, and TASC is already looking forward to the next build.
Coun Martin said: “Any donation, of any size, will make such a difference to people in Madagascar. We are so grateful for the support we have had so far, and we will hopefully continue to raise more money as the projects develop.”
TASC has also worked with Feedback Madagascar since 2015 to tackle homelessness in Fianarantsoa, by helping people into accommodation, education and work.
Next week’s Ripon Gazette will feature more of TASC Madagascar’s work, including the homelessness project, a reforestation initiative, and the refurbishment of the Ambokala mental hospital in Manakara.
For more information about how to make a donation to TASC Madagascar, visit their website: www.tascmadagascar.org/donations