Sunday 22 June 2008


As much as I hate admitting it, I have to move on from my life in Madagascar. So with a new phase, comes a new blog. Please continue to visit and comment on the new one! :-)
This is it: Welcome to my Bubble! :-)

Sunday 15 June 2008

Vita. Finished...

Hald is over.
People have left!

I feel sad.

We had a great farewell party and hardly slept the last night at the school that's meant so much to us all this year. Saying goodbye was terrible.

Eline, me and Eline (Cameroon)And our dear Torstein joined us. :-)
Luckily some of the Hald students are from Madagascar, so I KNOW I'll see them again one day. Today I found out that I have to set a date for my return to Madagascar. It's much better to know when I'll be back than just the fact that I will be back. It won't be long. I miss it so much.

Rock and I, the second to last dayWe gave each other compliments the last day.

Thanks to Hald. Thanks to the teachers. Thanks to the people in Madagascar. Thanks to the students at Hald. Thanks to God. I've had a fantastic year and learnt a lot.

I like to think that I am a lot wiser now and that I have gained wisdom for the rest of my life!


Monday 19 May 2008


Time to tell the world about my stay in Madagascar. First in Stavanger, then in Os. This blog is being written on the ferry on the Fanafjord, quite nice to have internet everywhere. WOW!

still have Malagasy friends, even in Norway! YEAY! This is Rock :-)

BAD NEWS: I lost my pictures from Madagascar! Not much informationwork can be done without them, and I need them to help my poor memory...
GOOD NEWS: My friend is a computernerd, so he found them again! :-) Thanks, Torstein! :-)

I've already had great fun with my friends in Norway. Here are some photos!

we got loads of free stuff at Kiwi on the way to Lindesnes Lighthouse

enjoying our stuff at Lindesnes Lighthouse

BAD NEWS: Hald is over the 13th of June...
GOOD NEWS: ...well, hm...

At least my teampartner will still be in Norway! :-)

I visited Sigrid in Kristiansand, we hang out with Marte and had lunch with Sigrid's fiancé, Kristoffer

Thursday 17 April 2008


It's a bit weird being back in Norway. Here are the ten strangest things about being back:

* There are white people EVERYWHERE!

* And they don't look at you on the streets. Instead they stare at the ground, trying to avoid eyecontact.

* You don't have to bend down if you walk past people who are standing or sitting.

* You get strange looks if you point with your mouth

* Things are EXPENSIVE!

* I can eat whenever and whatever I like, and I can find everything I want!

* We can drink the water from the tap!

* The water is already hot; you don't even have to boil it!

* I can understand the whole conversation and I can say what I want to say without any difficulties

* It's COLD.

Madagascar is not forgotten and never will be. At the same time it's great being back at Hald and hearing stories from the other students.

At one point I felt I had really had a boring stay with nothing exciting happening compared to the others - but then Ola enlightened me by telling great stories from Madagascar that I actually took part in! I guess it had come to the point where life in Madagascar was the normal life, and not really so special. But now I realize that I've had a blast and experienced great things! Now I have to get used to living in Norway again...

Saturday 5 April 2008

Goodbye to Madagascar

It was terrible leaving Fandriana. It was terrible saying goodbye to my friends not knowing when or if I will meet them again. Before we had a goodbye party the 14th of March, we celebrated the Women’s Day. The boys cooked for the girls! Mmm! Then we left the 15th for our Easter holiday in Farafangana, the South-East Coast of Madagascar. My friend Nancy and Ihanding out rice to the students - thanks to my dearest Granny and Grandad in England! :)

Farafangana was great. We visited our friend Daniel and his family. The few days we stayed there we swam in the Indian Ocean, went on a lakana trip (a Malagasy canoe) and did other tourist things. Nice being a tourist for a change, really relaxing. my future house?
Ola's father Dag, Eline and Daniel in the lakanawe found some children to play with in Farafangana too!

Daniel and his family, Team Madagascar and Olas father, Dag and his brother, Finn Ivar

We got back to Tana but didn’t stay there for long before we went North to Mahajanga. We were going for a boattrip on the Mission boat Shalom for 10 days. It was fantastic. We really got to experience missionaries in work. We visited three villages, two of them did not have electricity and no doctor. Our task was to play with the children and teach them Christian songs. We had a great time. In one village the Shalom-workers handed out “Samaritarian’s Purse” for each child. The Samaritan’s Purse was a box containing toys, toothbrushes and other useful things. The children were really happy and it was a great experience seeing their excitement.
the children were crazy about the four white people with the camera!
My six months in Madagascar are over for now, but I am CERTAIN that I will come back! This half year has made me even more positive about becoming a missionary and doing work for the Lord. I can’t wait to be back on this fantastic island – either as a tourist or as a worker! Madagascar is fantastic and the people are extraordinary. No wonder they call it she Island of Sunshine.

Tuesday 19 February 2008

Saved from the Cyclone

The Missionary Meeting was over so we headed back to Fandriana yesterday. It was poring down with rain and a rough wind was blowing terribly. Along the way we saw rice fields that were flooded with water and thought how terrible it must be for the people to have lost their land and source of income. A couple of places the road had started to “mould up” and one place the road was nearly completely blocked by a fallen tree.

We had driven for 2 and a half hours when the greatest challenge faced us. The road was flooded with water and it was impossible to pass. One house was surrounded with water and the rice fields could not be seen. A couple of taxi-brousses had stopped and the people were figuring out a solution to the problem. The passengers would walk by foot across the big “ocean” and carry their luggage on their heads. They would probably walk the 20 km that were left to Fandriana. What to do?!

Fortunately we weren’t on a taxi-brousse this time, so we could make our own decision. It was getting dark and going back to Antsirabe was therefore not an option. We decided to drive to Ambositra (20 km from where we were stopped by the flood), and found shelter in a hotel for the night. There wasn’t any signal on our phones, so we couldn’t reach anyone. Which was worrying for the people expecting us in Fandriana…

I had asked the people yesterday if the water would disappear during the night, but they just laughed. It hasn’t stopped raining since. This morning the first thing we did was get hold of credit for another phone. Fandriana was glad to hear from us and they thought something terrible had happened since we hadn’t arrived and they couldn’t reach us. They tried so send SFM’s car to pick us up (it is big and powerful), but the water was even higher today and they couldn’t get through. So perhaps Fandriana will be out of supplies for a while…

Anyway, our choice was either to stay in Ambositra (for uncertain time) or we could go back to Antsirabe before those roads were wrecked too! We chose option number two and are now safe and sound at the compound of the Norwegian School. People say there is a new cyclone on its way, so we have no clue on when we can head back and continue teaching…

I forgot to mention in my last post that Eline and I have got a kitten, and his name is Volamena (Gold in Malagasy). He’s in Fandriana waiting for us too. I miss him…

Check out Eline's blog for more details:

Wednesday 13 February 2008

Demons and Whites

Living in a somewhat large village in Madagascar has turned out to be a bit different than we expected. Nobody told us we would see the devil, nor did they say there would be no water (AT ALL!) a couple of days. And when we were out of gas as well, we really had to be Malagasy. They didn’t tell us we would be sexually harassed by our students (not too serious of course!), but they did tell us we would get attention. Here’s a little insight in what we’ve been faced with the last month.

A Demon In Our Dorm (sorry this is a bit long...)

She’s in my English class at SFM. Sits in the back of the classroom - a good student. The girl is quiet but sweet. Whenever I pass her, she is always smiling. There’s a twinkle in her eye. Her name is Hery – strength.

Some weeks ago I experienced another side of the Malagasy culture. I heard terrible screaming and crying from a room down the hall in my dormitory. My curiosity took over and I went to have a look. People were sitting around Hery’s bed, trying to comfort her. She was shaking terribly and literally crying like mad. I’ve never heard anything like it.

“Her heart is sick. There is a demon inside her,” they said when I asked what was the matter. Not exactly what I expected to hear. Before I could figure out a way to help, Hery was carried to another room. Apparently she’d had a vision that made her terrified. She was too weak to stand on her own. We all followed into the next room. Hery was placed on the bed and her friends were trying to calm her. They called the shepherds (Christian exorcists) and they were there in an instant.

“Why aren’t you singing?” they said and started to pray loudly. They wore white gowns and had their Bibles in their hands. I had seen this in church a couple of times, but never had I seen it with connection to a possessed person - and certainly not with any of my students! We fetched our songbooks and we sang as loud as we could, everyone worried about our friend.

“In Jesus’ name – go out of her Satan!” the shepherds shouted angrily. The poor girl was still shaking and screaming; her eyes were fixed on a spot on the wall. She didn’t react when they waved a hand in front of her face. She was totally gone. Hery wasn’t there, her eyes just stared blankly into nowhere. The twinkle and life in her eyes were gone.

After minutes of singing and praying, she finally calmed down. They asked her to say the name Jesus, but in the beginning she couldn’t. She protested and screamed. The shepherds continued their procedure, and eventually she whispered Jesus’ name, several times. Then we prayed for her and took her back to her room.

In the evening everyone gathered in the hallway to sing and pray for Hery. She had come more or less to herself and was explaining what had happened. “I saw a terrible sight – it made me horrified–“ suddenly she stopped, and started screaming all over again. The noise was terrible. We were all very worried. The shepherds were called again and started their routine once more.

Eline and I couldn’t sleep thinking there was a demon in the house. And the noise was too much to handle. Our friend was clearly in terrible pain and we felt so helpless. We spent the following night in the other Norwegians’ house. They had heard the screaming all the way to their house – that’s over 100 metres…

The following day, Hery went home, 6 hours North of Fandriana. Rumours spread quite quickly in Madagascar. Some say the demon is still in the dorm, some say it went with Hery. Some people don’t believe that there was a demon inside her at all. They say that she was depressed or had some kind of illness. I remember seeing her a few days before her “seizures”. I noticed then that she wasn’t the same old Hery. She was keeping to herself and didn’t look at all happy…

I know you readers might find it hard to believe that she was possessed. We’re not used to think this in the West. I don’t think anyone has the correct answer to that, except God. All I know is that something wasn’t right about Hery; something had definitely come over her… It is difficult for us to decide whether she was possessed or just sick. But I have a theory: what if it’s the devil who gives her the illness? What if the demon is a disease? That can be a way for him to take possession of our souls and hearts. Certainly I don’t think God would put his children into such pain…

Guess it was time for a little philosophical blog post now. I meet people with a lot different viewpoints than I am used to; it’s interesting.
I thank God that I have a faith that makes me strong and a teampartner I can share thoughts and moments with…

Now to something far different…

Some photos of one of our workplaces

the blue and white building is the primary school we teach at…
…far away in the village of Iharana
then we teach the teachers afterwards, this time we did it in the church and all we had was a small blackboard and some chalk

The power of the white human being

We are white. It is so obvious. As if it wasn’t enough getting glances and comments on the streets because our skin colour is so noticeable, the police have to stop us too. One Saturday Eline and I got to borrow the Norwegians’ car. We were so ready for a road trip to Ambositra (1 hour North), where we would buy each other birthday presents and have a nice restaurant meal. It was a long time since we’d driven a car, so we were quite nervous and very excited.

When we were driving home from Ambositra, we got pulled over by the police. This isn’t just peanuts, because in Madagascar the police have huge rifles on their back. You have to fear them for them to get respect… As it was my turn to sit behind the wheel, I was quite nervous as I rolled down the window.

this is a nice road in Madagascar!

“Salama tompoko,” I said politely and smiled. Could he see that I was nervous? Apparently he didn’t care. He had stopped us for private reasons. After having flattered us with compliments about our appearances – and found out we teach English – he explained that he’d like to learn too. Trying to impress us with the knowledge he already had, he said “I love you” and hoped for a positive answer. What to do?! He was the police, so I had to act in a proper way. Eline and I couldn’t help but laugh – and that saved us from the awkward moment. At the end he asked me for my driver license, indicating it was ok if I had left it at home. After having seen my name and the date of birth, he used the information to get to know me better. Luckily we got away soon enough. “See you, mademoiselle Swan,” he said at last. Well, we’ll see about that…

We had to be stopped twice again by different police on our way back. These smelled of alcohol and had the same purpose as the other one, but we got away safely and somehow managed to avoid giving them our number…

Pictures of our accommodation

Relaxing with a film in the evening

Our beautiful and (un)comfortable toilet

The place where we get water for our shower, wash clothes and do the dishes.

Our present location is Antsirabe, where we will spend the rest of the week at a small Missionary Meeting. We’re here to play with the children and attend some seminaries. That’ll be fun!

As I said; nobody told us everything we would meet in this country, but that’s been part of the adventure. We’re having great fun! I love Madagascar very much and I’m dreading the day I have to leave all my friends here…

Here are some delayed photos of different people and events

some of my friends on a picnic with SFM
Eline buying fruit on the way home from In-field
The first Sunday of Advent with Norwegians
boat in Mahajanga, taken by Maria

Bottom-line for now:
The police have power, but so does the white person.
Africa is good, but Madagascar is best!
There are many good organizations and schools, but Hald is number 1!
Satan is strong, but JESUS IS THE STRONGEST!