I will never forget the feelings and emotions going through me as I paddled the last few kilometres towards the coast of Madagascar. This mysterious island was slowly growing bigger and bigger, palms, white beaches and the unknown. This was to be my home for the next few months as I ran it from south to north.
In my mind I had a totally different picture to what is now unfolding in front of me. There were warnings from many different sources, but I don’t think any of this could prepare one to run through this terrain on the southern tip of Madagascar. The heat just never dies, even in the evening the earth continues to radiate the heat it has stored from the day and there is no wind to help cool one down. Water is a rare commodity and protected by those who have it, if it should rain, the muddy red water is scooped into barrels and left to settle for a few days and this becomes your drinking water.
I have now resorted to drinking water obtained from the villages as I was not aware of the amount that I would consume, nor the scarceness of it. This has not been easy getting used to as ones system has to get used to it as it plays havoc on ones stomach. The landscape is as harsh, desolate dry as is life for those who drag themselves through each day.
All of this is nothing, it pales significantly in comparison to the extreme poverty and hardship of humanity that I see unfolding around me. Living in this harsh environment are desperately poor communities, scratching life from this baron soil on a daily basis. Every possible source of food and energy that nature can offer is plundered in order to survive each day, the trail of devastation left behind is a pitiful sight.
I so often ask myself how we can stop the plundering of the limited resources we have left, especially in areas like this. I often think that our efforts and intentions are good, but misguided. What does it help to spend fortunes in time and effort in education and awareness in the first world, when it’s here that its need, education and solutions must be implemented out here where it’s happening. On the other side, how do we get the buy in and implement this when survival of today is the only thing that matters, tomorrow will be dealt with when the sun rises again.