September 2012, Andavadoaka, Madagascar - Last month marked the fifth birthday of Blue Ventures' community health programme, Safidy. It was a momentous day for Blue Ventures, coinciding with an official opening ceremony for a new centre in the village of Andavadoaka, southwest Madagascar.
More than 50 people were in attendance at the celebration. Stakeholders present included representatives from the local Italian Hospital and Mr Roger Samba, President of the Velondriake Association, the governing body of the locally managed marine area. The Chief and Deputy Medical Inspectors of the district of Morombe travelled for several hours to attend. The Medical Inspector thanked and literally welcomed Blue Ventures with open arms!
Safidy means 'freedom to choose' in Malagasy. The programme empowers women to choose the size of their family, and the timing of pregnancies. The new centre will host maternal and child health sessions and check-ups, offer reproductive health counselling services, and provide access to contraceptives.
Five years ago the community health programme launched its first family planning clinic with just two Blue Venture's former volunteers. On the day of opening more than 20% of Andavadoaka's women of reproductive age attended. It became evident that reproductive services were in extreme demand and women's suffering and lack of choice needed to be addressed.
Before Safidy arrived, women faced a 50 km trip to the nearest clinic. Today, the communities in Andavadoaka and 39 surrounding villages are all within 5 km of high quality family planning services. This year, 3,338 patient visits have been made, compared with 226 in the first year. Women have prevented 589 unwanted pregnancies as a result
In Andavadoaka the impact of our community-led total sanitation programme pilot is visible. Andavadoaka's beach is now free from human waste for the first time in many years.
Thanks to generous contributions from our supporters, in particular the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, USAID, and the United Nations Population Fund, Blue Ventures is truly making a difference.
Blue Ventures is an award-winning marine conservation organisation dedicated to conservation, education and sustainable development in tropical coastal communities. Through our marine expeditions, volunteers from around the world join us on career breaks, student gap years and internships, working closely with our field research teams, in partnership with local communities.
Blue Ventures' projects are focused in environmentally and culturally sensitive regions of the world. All project visitors are required to be aware that we are privileged guests in our host countries, towns and villages. We insist that all team members, acting as ambassadors to Blue Ventures, adapt their behaviour to recognise local cultural sensitivities. We have a responsibility to minimise negative impacts on local environments and communities where we work, as well as to provide tangible benefits to our host communities.
To find out more about Blue Ventures Expeditions visit our volunteer pages on our website.
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