Several members of Development and Peace along with two Regional Animators are currently on a solidarity tour of Madagascar to visit with local organizations supported by Development and Peace. Over the next few weeks, they will be writing about their visits and experiences.
Here is their first message!
“The more we are exposed to the sufferings of the poor, the deeper our compassion becomes”, Albert Nolan O.P. 1984.
After landing in the capital city of Antananarivo, we will spend the next three weeks traveling the country to study development projects that are helping some of the most impoverished communities in Madagascar.
Development and Peace has been working in Madagascar for the last 25 years, and we will have an opportunity to witness firsthand that work, such as how communities are protecting themselves from the extractive work of a local Canadian mining operation; how villages are empowering themselves through local community radio; how school programs are being put in place for young children who live in poverty; and what is being implemented to help poor rural families gain access to basic human resources such as water, land and agricultural products.
We will absorb as much as we can of the trials and daily struggles of the people of Madagascar so we can in turn, return home to share with you their stories and what they need as our support. Please follow our journey. We ask for your thoughts and prayers while we walk in solidarity with the immeasurably brave and persevering women, children and men of Madagascar.
Who we are….
Pat Acheson (Alberta)
Pat is a retired teacher and administrator. She has a large immediate and extended family that includes four children and 12 grandchildren. Family is at the centre of her life. She has travelled extensively, and although this is her first trip with Development and Peace, her and her husband have always tried to live like the locals no matter where they are. Her interests include narration, indigenous art, spirituality, artisanal work, education and family and community-building. She is very grateful to participate in this carefully planned trip and will take the opportunity to learn from the experiences that help her to “feel” the realities of those she will meet.
Martin Blanchet (Alberta)
Martin is a retired teacher who has been living in Edmonton for the last two years. He has varied interests that include volunteering in his community, ancestry and education. With Development and Peace, he is very interested in learning more about local organizations in the South, dialoguing with other Catholic groups and promoting Development and Peace’s work. As a Francophone who has lived in a mostly Anglophone community all his life, he has developed an affinity towards all minority groups. He enjoys all types of activities, particularly those related to culture, traditions and gastronomy!
Brenda Chaput-Saltel (Manitoba)
Brenda has been the Regional Animator for Manitoba for nearly three years. Most of her previous work was in the field of education. She was a Youth Programs Coordinator for a parish in the Archdiocese of St. Boniface, an Early Childhood Educator in the Seine River School Division and a Continuing Education Skills Trainer for the St. James Assinaboia School Division. Brenda lives in rural Manitoba and is the busy mom of four boys. Together they LOVE spending time outdoors canoeing, hiking, fishing and camping!
Gabrielle Dupuis (Manitoba)
Gabrielle, 19, is a proud Franco-Manitoban. She has worked at the Saint-Malo Catholic Camps since the age of 14, and enjoys helping kids learn how to make their faith their own. She also has a certificate in theology from Saint-Paul University in Ottawa.
Norma McDonald, CSC (Manitoba)
Sister of Holy Cross and educator, Sr. Norma invites young people to join her on a journey of solidarity and transformation. The vision and principles of Development and Peace have been an integral part of how she shares her passion for social justice. She introduced Development and Peace to the Université de Saint-Boniface in 1993 and the committee there has been active ever since!
Sara Michel (Alberta)
Sara has been the Regional Animator for the province of Alberta for nearly three years. She has an educational background in Middle Eastern studies, but most of her work has been in South America and the Caribbean. She has never visited Madagascar – until now! She was born in Alexandria, Egypt, but has lived on five different continents. She is highly energetic and loves to dance!
Karen Frances Rawlings (Ontario)
Karen was born and still lives happily in Sarnia, Ontario. She is a retired teacher and long-time supporter of Development and Peace. She became more actively involved with the organization in 2008 when she went on a solidarity trip to Honduras and Guatemala with now retired Southwest Ontario animator Paul Lemieux. She has been married for 35 years and has four adult children. Her interests, activities and hobbies include travel, music, hockey, walking, volunteering and socializing!