Back from Madagascar

Just got back after an amazing week in Madagascar where I taught Wikipedia editing and offline use through Kiwix. I worked with some amazing people from very interesting places. It was a very intense week, where things went mostly according to plan. Including stomach troubles.

Thanks to Air Madagascar I was able to spend 2 extra days which allowed me to see a bit more of Antananarivo and surroundings. Including the Lemurs Park, which is pretty great. They have 7 different species and the monkeys are running around freely.lemur-madagascar

After that I didn’t know very well where to continue, my guide suggested crocodiles. I wasn’t so sure about that. What the heck I thought, let’s do it. On the way there I asked my guide to stop at a supermarket. It was more like a hypermarket. Pretty impressive for Africa. The biggest supermarket I had thus far seen in Africa was in Mali back in 2005, about 150 sqm. Of course there can be arguments against this type of capitalist display, but it’s nice to see the availability of products and prices that are not too extreme. I bought some local products such as chocolate, sugary nut snacks (for the trip back) and 2 bottles of rum. Meanwhile thinking, “can’t I buhappy-girl-akamasoa-madagascary something nice for kids and give it out in the street?”  I asked my guide if he know about an orphanage. He suggested Akamasoa, created by Pedro Opeka in 1989.

So instead of spending money on souvenirs I left some for the project, which has provided thousands and thousands of people with education, healthcare and a decent way of living. It’s really a big difference to walk around in the area. No paranoia, no begging street kids. Instead smiles and more of the experience I remember from Mali. I’m very happy I visited the project.

Now it’s good to be back in Europe where I can walk around at night not worrying about bad things that can happen. And with good internet, so I can get some Odoo work done.

Habaka, Madagascar tech hub

When I knew I was going to Madagascar I checked out the local tech scene. Naturally I bumped into Habaka, Madagascar’s hub for technology, information and startups. It’s run by Harinjaka Andriankoto Ratozamanana. There’s a 300 sq.m. building for activities such as teaching kids how to code, making things, web tech startups and a lot more. I happen to be here on a Saturday afternoon with a presentation:

CodorDojo Madgascar

  • learn coding together
  • tech like HTML, CSS, PHP, MySQL, Java, etc
  • but also with MIT’s Scratch, which looks like a lot of fun for young kids to playfully learn coding
  • it’s free for kids (and parents)
  • there’s a small group of people starting this in CodorDojo now

For now more info on Facebook: CoderDojoMadagascar 

And then I held an ad-hoc presentation of Wikipedia, Kiwix and I found out most people in the room had heard of Wikipedia, but not of the Malagasy version of it, which has an impressive number of 47k articles now and the Malagasy Wiktionary even 3,5M. As it happens most of this work has been done by one person, who’s living in Paris: Jagwar.

Ready for space

Meanwhile I found out that the seven 20 year olds are actually planning to send a satellite into space.

Globalizing local Madagascar business

Drongo is globalizing local Madagascar business by offering translation and additional services in French, English and Malagasy.

Update: There’s a now a Wikipedia page (in French) about Habaka, created by one of the participants of the course.


Formation Afripédia à Madagascar – le départ

Là je me trouve à l’aéroport de Charles de Gaulle. Ca fait à peine une semaine que je viens de recevoir un email qu’on est à la recherche de quelqu’un qui pourrait faire une formation alentour de Wikipédia à Madagascar.

Je vais passer 12 heures dans l’avion pour rentrer en Afrique et pour continuer du travail que j’ai commencer il y a presque 10 ans au Mali.

Entretemps j’ai passé encore quelques jours en Egypte mais je m’en doute que ce pays est la vraie Afrique. Ca me fait aussi penser aux autres pays arabes, j’étais même en Syrie deux fois, la deuxième fois, décembre 2010,  juste avant l’éclater de la guerre civile. J’ai adoré la Syrie et les gens mais au même temps il y avait déjà une atmosphère un peu bizarre en 2008 et j’avais pas envie de faire des amies ou rester avec des gens locales, ce que j’ai fait quand-même au Liban, à Beyrouth, c’était bien sympa. Aussi le stop était bien là, et apparemment même le mec du Hezbollah était sympa. Je pense que je ferai pourtant plus l’autostop au Liban ou Syrie.

A propos de Madagascar, j’espère rester en contacte avec les gens qui je vais expliquer comment éditer les articles de Wikipédia, uploader des images et comment utiliser Kiwix, un bon logiciel libre pour l’accès au Wikipédia hors ligne. La formation se déroulera à l’université de Antananarivo et elle est rendu possible grâce à la support de la Francophone et Orange Mobile. Il y aura 16 personnes, surtout du Madagascar, mais aussi du Mozambique, des Comores et de l’Ile Maurice.

J’espère aussi faire connaissance avec les gens de Habaka.

Le vole va partir très bientôt. A suivre.

I will be teaching Wikipedia and Kiwix in Madagascar

#outoftheblue I’ll be in a plane to #Antananarivo #Madagascar in a week from now, to teach #Wikipedia editing and @KiwixOffline

I got an email that Afripedia is urgently looking for someone who can teach how to edit Wikpedia and how to use Kiwix to university students in Madagascar for a week. I immediately agreed without too much thinking and that same night my flight was arranged.

I’m very excited to go back to Africa to work again on some of the things I was doing in Mali back in 2005.