The project has been a tremendous success. In June, I went to Fianarantsoa, Madagascar for two months to work with the Projet Jeune Leader. Along with my sister and our Malagasy counterpart, we hired eight Young Leaders (18-25 year olds who will work in four middle schools in Fianarantsoa for a full year). A week after they were hired, I began the leadership trainings. Over the next two months, these young adults participated in over 90 hours of training. The American resources I had were translated into French, and then culturally adapted them for Malagasy youth: an “elevator speech” became a “speech in the time it takes to run to the latrine.” To my trainees’ surprise, I avoided lecturing and instead used participatory activities such as role plays and learning games. They loved this new style of teaching and are excited to try it out in the middle schools.
After my departure, my sister led extensive health trainings, focused on reproductive and teen health. The middle schools started at the beginning of October. The Young Leaders have been placed (in pairs) in a total of four middle schools. Each has created a “Coin Jeune” (Youth corner) in the schools where students can safely get advice, read, play games, and receive trainings. All have been integrated into the school day schedule so they are able to lead longer activities with the middle schoolers during class hours, all focused on health and leadership. In all, they will reach about 2700 middle schoolers over the year. So far, the students in the schools love the Young Leaders and energetically participate in the activities and lessons. I can’t wait to get a report at the end of the school year – I’m sure more incredible stories are still to come!