Toamasina Prison for boys

In 2014, Avonbrook agreed to fund a 3 year programme to bring about lasting improvements to the conditions and prospects of boys incarcerated in Toamasina Prison.

This programme was supported and monitored by MfM and delivered by the Malagasy NGO ‘SAF’ in cooperation with the Malagasy prison authorities.

In Madagascar the prospects for a child accused of a crime, even a petty crime like stealing food, are grim. Firstly the judicial system assumes guilt until proven innocent. Outside of the capital few towns have special facilities for children, so frequently minors are incarcerated in an adult prison until they are either found innocent or until they have served a sentence.

Toamasina prison is located in the large regional hub of Toamasina, on the East coast of Madagascar. There is no remand service for boys in Toamasina so instead the boys live in cramped ‘juvenile’ quarters within the main prison compound. Before SAF and MfM got involved the boys had stark quarters with a small bare concrete yard. There were no organised activities for the boys at all apart from occasional literacy lessons provided by church groups. Food rations were miniscule.

Following successful programmes in 2012-13, part-funded by Avonbrook, from 2014 new activities were introduced and existing activities strengthened. Transfer of skills to dedicated prison staff and specialised social-workers was central to the approach. New collaboration with the prison farms were explored and a major emphasis was placed on the successful reintegration of boys into society.

The programme activities included:

  1. Literacy & numeracy classes
  2. Play and educational games
  3. Horticulture – vocational training
  4. Improved diet through harvesting and eating crops
  5. Worm breeding – vocational training
  6. Solar food-drying – vocational training
  7. Training boys in conflict resolution and interpersonal skills
  8. Transfer of skills from SAF to prison staff
  9. Extension of crop cultivation using the prison farms
  10. Engagement of parents
  11. Support and follow-up for released boys re-entering society
  12. Pilot workshops and training to ‘prevent’ delinquency and incarceration.

The engagement of key stake holders such as the prison authorities and the juveniles’ parents bring the prospect of a deeper and more enduring impact.

Akany Avoko children’s home

Avonbrook was delighted to agree funding for its first project in 2008. Akany Avoko, a children’s home in Madagascar, was established in 1963 and is home to over 120 abandoned, orphaned, abused, impoverished or troubled children aged between six months and 21 years old. Centres such as this providing residential care and education for destitute children are exceedingly rare in Madagascar. Through funding provided by Avonbrook, and working in conjunction with ‘Money for Madagascar’, Akany Avoko was able to extend its Childcare Centre and guarantee the salaries of two teachers for four years.

In 2010 Avonbrook made an additional grant to another centre for teenage girls who have either become pregnant or are seen as at risk. This centre provides them with food, education, counselling and in the more extreme cases accommodation.

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Akany Avoko Children’s Home, 2010

In 2008 Avonbrook made two grants to Akany Avoko, one to fund a new childcare centre and another to cover the salaries of two classrrom teachers. Simon Kirby – then Project Development Manager at Akany Avoko Children’s Home, and now an Avonbrook Trustee – provided Avonbrook with a report on how these grants have helped them in their work. An extract from Simon’s report is below. Avonbrook continues to support Akany Avoko, with a further grant in 2009 to fund the two teachers.

The intervention of Avonbrook Projects Abroad has made an enormous difference to the quality of education that Akany Avoko is able to offer to its youngest residents.

“Thanks to the support of the salaries of two primary school teachers Akany Avoko was able to record for the fourth consecutive year, a 100% pass rate for students sitting their secondary school entrance exams. When one considers that many of these children had been deprived of education for years of their childhood this is an incredible achievement on their part. Of all the activities taking place at Akany Avoko the primary and pre-school classes remain those of which we are most proud. Alongside the other four teachers employed by the school the two Avonbrook sponsored teachers oversaw the education of sixty children in the academic year 2008-09.

In the new childcare centre extension daily pre-school lessons have taken place throughout the year, giving our smallest children a head-start in literacy, numeracy, art and structured play. In 2008 -9 pre-school class size was 15, and the number of beneficiaries will rise in the 2009-2010 term to 17. At the end of this year’s pre-school education programme nine children were able to move up to begin their primary education at Akany Avoko’s on-site school.”