Let me introduce myself!

Good morning everybody! This is Raissa again! Hope you are having an absolutely fabolous week! Now i started this blog a few weeks ago but i forgot to introduce myself! As some of you know I am a licenced tour guide here in Madagascar and I am also part of the Tsara Project Foundation. Together we try to build more schools in the rural areas of my country. This week i thought it is time to let you all closer to me...here is the story of my life :)

As you may all know my name is Raissa and I am 25 years old. I live in Antsiranana or as we simply call it, Diego Suarez. You might ask why my town has two names? Well, it is simply history: my town was originally names after a Portuguese navigator who visited the bay of Diego Suarez in the 16th centrury. The official name changed to Antsiranana in 1975 but life is slow here so we still call our city Diego.

Me and my family moved here only a few years ago. Before that i spent my life in a small village, called Antanivelatra. This place is about 4 hours from Diego: 1 hour by car and an extra 3 hour walk to my village. While i grew up I used to work on the fields with my mother, brother aand sister simply to survive. Food was our top priority. My dad died early so i had no chance but leaving the school and work full time on the rice fields.

When things got better i made a decision: i would like to live in a city. Larger cities means opportunities also. More people, more jobs and of course a better life. I was lucky enough to stay at my mom's brother place. This is how i moved to Diego Suarez. I remember my first job was a housekeeper to a franco-Malagasy couple (the lady is Malagasy but her husband is French) for 8 months. The lady taught me a bit of french language to communicate with them because they all spoke French at home. After 8 months of working in their house they asked me if I could do the same job (cleaning) in their hotel and of course I said Yes!!! What a promotion! :) During my workshifts I saw and met a lot of tourists everyday so I could learn French step by step...which is crucial if you want a better job in Mada.

Last New Year's Eve with my family, Stella and Peter

I did a lot of different jobs before I became a tour guide. Now you might say that I am lying if I told you I had no idea how to say ”good morning” in English back then yet i am an English speaking tour guide right now! Thank God I had a lot of willingness to learn French and English by my own from books, videos and of course with a lot of practicing with tourist. I've never sturdied at a university because they are too expensive.My life changed a lot since I've left my village because there is more opportunity finding a better job and have a better life here in the city than in the rural areas.

Our house is made of sheet metal and wood. We have 4 rooms. The toilet is separated so as our "bathroom". Where we live is not in the middle of the city, it’s a like the suburbs. We have poor infrastructure: there is no draining system so every rainy season more than 50 houses are under the water for almost 5 weeks and unlucky of them this year will be extremely hard because we expect really bad weather including a few cyclones this coming rainy season. We also do not have electricity in the house. Bathroom is not like your bathroom at home. We bath outside using the water we collect from the garden tap.

In general life here is very relaxed: workers and students start at 8 am and finish at 11:30 or 12 am then everybody goes home to have lunch and have some nap before turning back to work at around 2:30 pm to 5:00pm. When I do not work I go to the market every morning to buy fresh fish, meat or vegetables….(almost everybody do the same thing because electricity is so expensive and very unreliable) because people do not have fridge at home fridge. My favorite dish is “ravitoto with zebu meat and coconut milk”, it is sooooo delicious!

During my tour guide works i met Stella and Peter about a year ago. I was their tour guide while backpacking in Northern-Madagascar. We became really good friends. We talked a lot in the evening while we opened a bottle of Dzama rhum and some weeks later the idea of Tsara Project was born.

Now i am still a nature tour guide by profession and I also help Tsara Fondation. The last few weeks were super exciting because we finalized the second school project! I'm so happy that such a small idea can make such a big impact in the lives of these little children in the villages! We also shoot a video which you can see very soon! Hope you guys are all excited!