If our children are illiterate, certainly their future will be dark, because they will not be able to find jobs and they don’t have anything else left because our ancestral land has been appropriated
Say Louise, female, 38, Ilafitsignana
Most narrators see the future as extremely bleak and express real concern about how their children will survive. The land that used to be passed from generation to generation has been taken away and the compensation they received is fast running out, so there are no material assets for their children to inherit. Some even predict that competition for ever-dwindling natural resources will result in violence.
They also talk about the destruction of the landscape and say their children will find it hard to believe, for example, that there was actually a mountain nearby. Such changes imply that future generations will suffer from a loss of history and sense of identity.
As farming is no longer viable, the only livelihood options are weaving – for women – and fishing – for men – but these do not secure an adequate income. Some narrators conclude that their children will be forced to migrate in search of employment.
Most narrators see education as offering the only hope of a better future, yet they feel their children are being badly short-changed by the quality of the education they receive – the teachers’ lack of commitment and frequent absences being a particular concern. Several point out that providing education and training is the government’s responsibility and should be an absolute priority.
How many times have these kids returned home from school because their teacher was absent? Facing such a situation, parents choose to remain silent. In one month, children here in Ilafitsignana studied only one day. These children end up passing on to the next grade without having the needed knowledge to advance to a higher grade. [The teacher] decided to pass the children because he feels embarrassed when no student has a passing grade. When it comes to taking the official exam after grade 5, not a single student passed it because these children do not have the proper knowledge…
Marie Louise, female, Ilafitsignana
Now I am getting old and I don’t want to see my children endure the hardships that I have gone through. I am worried for the future of my children because I fear people will kill one another in order to gain control over ever fewer resources. I am worried about how my children will get married someday, and how they will find food. I keep worrying about my children but I cannot help them.
Benagnomby, male, St Luce
I don’t think people have a positive view on their lives. People encounter misery in all aspects of their lives; they lost their land, they lost their access to forest resources, and they lost their opportunity to harvest good crops [because of the drought]…if we still farmed our land, our hardships would not be as chronic as they are now.
Paulette, female, 37 years, Ilafitsignana
Foreigners did not have any problem at all destroying the forest. They also removed a large mountain. It is going to be difficult for people to tell future generations that there was once a mountain covered by forest around here: a place where people collected firewood, let their cattle graze, and hunted wild animals. Some parts of the mountain now have become houses and a road.
Miha, male, Ilafitsignana
The future generation will be the big loser because their parents at least used the money from QMM, but they will not have anything to inherit…
Ilay, male, Ambinanibe
Luckily, QMM constructed a school in this village, with two teachers and grades 1 to 4. But one of the teachers is drunk and the children cannot concentrate on their studies…they are afraid of being beaten by him…. The second teacher, a woman, was always getting sick, and decided to leave…. So despite the sacrifice that parents make for their children to purchase school supplies, their children do not study. But we can’t do anything because teaching is something that is beyond our control. I think that this academic year will be lost.
Lala, female, 40 years, St Luce
As you already saw, people struggle in their lives. The suffering is intense; that is why we continue to complain. We make our complaints to you and you in turn should make complaints for us to a higher authority. You have witnessed how precarious our lives are. I hope that these foreigners will give us jobs. So these are our complaints, so that you know. I think our hardships will be tougher [in the future]…because we cannot forbid these foreigners from taking our farmland and water (river, sea), even if these sustain our lives.
Tema Pauline, female, 36 years, Petriky