It has been good to be here again, and to meet people I have met several times before over the last two years. Still, there is a sense of relief in knowing that I now can think about coming home and the familiar life with my own people.
A side benefit with doing things like these, is travelling. Seeing new places, meeting people, walking through busy streets, feeling the smells, seeing children going to school or playing (always makes me smile), women selling food at pavement stalls, hearing the music being played from cafes or shops, being an observer passing through, and reflect on differences and similarities with things I have seen before.
That is my privilege. To people who live here, this is home, for good or for worse. I have an impression of people waiting for something better to happen. Towns and countryside are busy, there is enough food for all, the markets are full of the daily commodities, but there is little surplus. A big part of the population is unemployed and live under the UN poverty line. The rate of illiteracy is high and growing.
There has been continued political instability in Madagascar since January 2009, when the sitting president took power in a coup. Now, first round of Presidential Elections have been held in October. The second round, between the two candidates with the most votes is scheduled for 20 December. People hope for better times, but are reserved optimists.
But my strongest impression is from meeting the colleagues at the University of Fianarantsoa. They are enthusiastic, they want to develop the studies, they want to develop their teaching, they have plans for strengthening the cooperation with other universities for the benefit of the students they train. One question, from a young teacher in agriculture, in many ways sums it up: How can we best make study programs that qualify for the needs of the society?