© Firecracker


Firecracker photographer, Lee-Ann Olwage recently travelled to Madagascar on assignment for Geo Magazine.

Valim-babena refers to the idea of gratefulness and recognition that we owe to the parents who raised us – the idea being that we are because of our parents.

Mutual help, solidarity and the notion of social connection form the basic principles of collective life in Madagascar and are also the founding principles of Masoandro Mody, an Alzheimer’s organisation based in Antananarivo, the islands capital city.

Madagascar lies off the south-eastern coast of Africa and is home to around 26 million Malagasy people. Low standards of living and the lack of healthcare structure, especially in rural areas, often leads the majority of the population to treat themselves with home remedies, self-medication or traditional methods.  Dementia is still an invisible concept for a large percentage of the population.

Many families do not talk about their parents dementia diagnosis and may even hide or lock them away at home. Members of Malagasy society will often judge people with dementia as victims of a demonic possession or an act of witchcraft due to their deeply rooted cultural beliefs.

Masoandro Mody is the only Alzheimer’s organization in the country and provides people with hope by providing support and training to family members so that they can care for the elderly. A day centre also provides relief to home carers when they need a break as nursing homes do not exist in Madagascar.

A few years ago Fara Rafaraniriana noticed something was different about her father, Paul Rakotozandriny. He was acting strangely. For nine years no one knew that he had dementia and his ten children were convinced that he had gone crazy. Only his daughter Fara stood by him and she was advised to contact Masoandro Mody, who have helped to provide her with the knowledge and support to care for her father.

More details via the link

All images by Lee-Ann Olwage / © Firecracker 2024