Marie Emilienne Rasoamalala – Madagascar

Marie Emilienne Rasoamalala – Madagascar

Date: June 30, 2015
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Meeting Gender Links has been a godsend for Rasoamalala. She has been working in her community for over 20 years. She is well known in her region, and very often she is the first contact when people are in trouble. But she lacked knowledge on “miralente” (gender concepts).” The training of all the stages in the Centre of Excellence has been something that she really needed, not only to have more confidence in herself, but to have the techniques to help survivors.

Rasoamalala is people-centred. “When my community is happy, I am happy,” she told Gender Links. She seizes all opportunities to follow courses so that she can transfer this knowledge to the community. Apart from the Gender Links training, she has followed courses on micro finance and agriculture, and got the knowledge of how to encourage small projects so that women can become economically independent. She followed a course financed by the World Bank for farmers, and with the knowledge she acquired there, she has trained women to set up their own enterprises.

Women are very often abandoned by their husbands, and to help these women, Rasoamalala gives them ideas to start small businesses. Her most memorable experience is about a woman who was abandoned by her husband and did not know what to do for a living. “She started to buy little packets of snacks that she was selling here and there so that she could keep the pot boiling. I looked for a funder so that she could buy small machinery and basic ingredients to make her own snacks instead of buying.” It was with pride that Rasoamalala told Gender Links that she did that because she got training from Gender Links on Local Economic Development. “I implement all the training that I got on “miralenta” (gender concepts).

Rasoamalala calls herself an agent of change and an agent of nutrition. She forms part of a project called CEECALINE – Fight against malnutrition in children between 0-5 years old. She followed a course financed by the World Bank and got funding to become an agent of communication on nutrition (ACN). She received funding to buy basic ingredients to make food for children. Now when women come to get food for their children, Rasoamala seizes the opportunity to teach them about nutrition. “Since following the course with Gender Links, I have added an element of gender in my training.”

As the head of a big Foukountanay with 2000 inhabitants and 666 households, Rasoamala reaches all these people, and has a great influence. “People knock on my door all the time for help, and I do not hesitate for one second in helping them. Very often it is about family problems, or problems between a couple.” As Head of Foukountanay, Rasoamalala is the first person that people will go to for help. She deals a lot with conflict resolution, and very often finds herself acting like a legal person. “When I cannot resolve the problem, then I refer people to the Centre d’Ecoute Conseil et Juridique” (Centre for advice and legal help). As far as possible I do not send anyone to the police, as this can be a traumatising for survivors; but if need be, then I will refer them to the police.”

The Head of Foukountanay is proud to say that the police in her locality give training on public security, and when she gives trainings the police attend. As confirmed by the Mayor, Rasoamalala is a model for organising big campaigns on health, vaccinations and raising awareness among mothers to make sure that their children are vaccinated. In these campaigns, she makes sure that mothers know about breastfeeding, reproductive health and family planning. She has added gender to this after the training from Gender Links.

She told Gender Links with lots of pride, “I have been Head of my District for the past 20 years, and have always been elected democratically. This is the basis of democracy. I have been elected by my people.”

Rasoamalala has no intention of stopping until she gets somebody good to replace her. At the moment, her main concern is to build a good road that will have direct access to the national road. She works with the Mayor and other councillors on the project. The other project that is close to her heart is making sure that her community has clean water. “We are only 15 kms from the capital city, and we do not have drinking water.”

The Head of Foukountanay ends the interview by saying, “I am really worried. I have earmarked two women to take over from me, but they still need lots of training. They have family commitments; not like me, who gives all my life to my district.” Rasoamalala can be proud to have left large footprints, and so many ground-breaking projects for Foukatanay. Gender Links wishes her good luck in finding somebody to step into her shoes.


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