Agricultural Training Gives School Dropout a Second Chance in Life

Friday, October 11, 2019
Hary is proud to achieve her degree
PHOTO: ADRA / Livatina Ranarison

 

A single mother and high-school dropout leads her community toward prosperity and education

Miharisoa Mahatradrenibe Pauline Elisabeth, a.k.a. Hary, was in 11th grade when her father died.  

She was a good, serious, and hardworking young girl poised for academic success, but her family was left without a reliable source of income. They had a farm – a small plot of land with a few crops – but this was not enough to sustain both the family and the kids’ education.  

Hary was forced to drop out from school one year before taking the final exam.

“We relied on our father when he was still here. When he passed away, we struggled to manage our finances. My goal was to finish high school and get my degree, but because of financial problems I had to quit,” explained Hary.

When Hary quit school, she thought her dreams of completing her education were lost forever. Every day she worked the fields, trying to scrape a meager living from the hard terrain.

At 21 she became pregnant and was left to raise the baby on her own. Hary was pulled every which way – her widowed mother needed her; her younger brothers and sisters needed her; and now she had a baby girl who needed her.

Hary’s life became one of hard work and hard-won survival. When staff from the USAID-funded ASOTRY project came to conduct a census in her village in the highlands of Madagascar she volunteered to help. Hary then joined all the various associations in health, agriculture, and job development that the project created.

“When they arrived, I listened to what they said during the awareness raising sessions, I thought to myself that it might be helpful to work with them,” Hary said. “I became a Lead Farmer, a Lead Mother, and a Community Health Volunteer.”

Hary still faced challenges. She was only 24 years old and she was a woman, in a society that was dominated by men.  But Hary was not unprepared for her new leadership roles.  She had been a leader in her church’s Scouts group for many years – and she was ready to be the main representative between the ASOTRY staff and her community.

“It was the people who chose me,” she said of her leadership roles. “I love it because I work closely with the technical specialists, they provide me with training, and then I train the others in the skills and knowledge that I have received. It helps me build a closer relationship with the community.”

Hary applied what she’d learned to her own farm, and became a model of success for her entire community. After she implemented the improved farming techniques that she had learned from the ASOTRY project, she saw a significant change in the quantity and quality of her harvest and income.

Last September, Hary fulfilled a dream that she had always cherished: graduating from high school.

Her ability to achieve her degree is a testament to her perseverance. She got the high-school degree she had coveted – with honors! –while raising her daughter, taking care of her mother and siblings, running the farm, and being a community leader under the ASOTRY project.

“My father would have been overjoyed that I completed my studies,” she said. “If all farmers that receive training from the project apply the techniques, they will always be successful.”

Other successes are still lying ahead. Next year, Hary plans to attend the agricultural university in Fianarantsoa, a big city two hours away from her community.

“When I see successful people, I want to be like them,” Hary asserted. “That’s why I like studying. I used to really struggle, but now I plan to continue onto higher education so I can one day train other farmers to improve their businesses and their lives.”

Hary applied what she’d learned to her own farm, and became a model of success for her entire community.
Hary applied what she’d learned to her own farm, and became a model of success for her entire community.
PHOTO: ADRA / Livatina Ranarison

 

Last updated: November 20, 2019

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