Flickr Photo from Avylavitra
Several weeks ago I wrote a post on BlogHer about Foko Madagascar and Joan Razafimharo, an amazing blogger, social change activist, and woman working in Madagascar and other parts of the world. She was the recent winner of my son's Green Geek Charity Contest and we contributed a small amount to the charity of her choice, SOS Children's Villages.
Joan sent us a note tonight thanking us, but also letting us know of a terrible natural disaster in her country:
Hey Harry and Beth,
I just celebrated my 26th birthday today! (but I enjoy saying " I am only 20 ") I this is the best gift ever!
So I had great time eating my favourite chocolate waffle when watching Harry my favourite green geek. I've been corresponding with the people at SOS Village Madagascar (for the next blogathon) and I know they'll appreciate the visibility and donation you did with this video.
On a sadder note my country was just swept by a cyclone last week-end and this time it is my turn to use your tips on fundraising and social media to help the people back home. I haven't slept much working on this project (but feeling really motivated!) and I can't thank you enough for the informations your blog provides us.
Cyclone? Okay, maybe I've been really busy and wasn't paying attention to the media, but I didn't recall reading about it. A few clicks around Joan's personal site and I found this post from the Daily Green.
Once again, it's cyclone season in the southern hemisphere. Once again, Madagascar is reeling.
Once again, you probably didn't hear a thing about it in the U.S. media.
Last week Cyclone Ivan – a storm mentioned worriedly in my last post – collided with the island nation as a borderline Category 3/Category 4 storm. (The Daily Green reported on its initial impact, when 11 were reported dead.) Ivan's track is pictured below, with darker purple representing Category 3 strength and lighter representing Category 4.
The Foko site has a round up of YouTube Video coverage, including this one which gives a glimpse of the destruction. Reports suggest 15,000 are homeless because of the storm, and 22 dead. If you read Joan's blog or Foko, you will learn that Madagascar is a very poor country. Natural disasters like cyclones are not only deadly, but can cause economic damage to the vanilla crops, an important source of income because it is a key export.
As this disaster has been largely ignored by the American media, it points to the value and importance of alternative sources like blogs and sites like Global Voices which provided this round up on the damage caused by Cyclone Ivan and the relief efforts. Joan has been an important contributor to these roundups, providing amazing coverage at her blog, The Purple Heart. There is a slideshow from this blogger, google map showing the path of destruction, and photos in Flickr from avylavitra.