Making Movies That Matter In Madagascar

Friday, August 3, 2018
Malagasy Peace Corps volunteers created the video to teach the many benefits of exclusively feeding babies under six months old with breastmilk.
PHOTO: Peace Corps Madagascar

A group of Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) in Madagascar came up with a creative way to promote exclusive breastfeeding – newborns drinking only breast milk for at least the first six months of life - that is both effective and entertaining.

Olivia Prentzel, a third-year PCV in Madagascar, explains the idea, “As Peace Corps Volunteers, we are often given the task of teaching others with the ultimate goal of changing behaviors,” says Prentzel. “Changing someone’s behavior isn’t easy. So as a group of volunteers with an interest in media, we asked ourselves, ‘How can we encourage healthy habits in a unique and fun way?’ We combined our skills and creative minds and produced this animated cartoon about exclusive breastfeeding.”

Through their experience, the PCVs had learned that many Malagasy women breastfeed their children, but not exclusively. Over 50 percent of Malagasy children under age five face developmental delays because they lack proper nutrition. Exclusive breastfeeding is an easy way to ensure babies receive the nutrition they need. 

A Malagasy women breastfeeds her baby
More than half of Malagasy children under five suffer from malnutrition. Exclusive breastfeeding is an easy way to ensure babies receive the nutrition they need.
PHOTO: USAID Madagascar

USAID partners with the Peace Corps to support community development through our Small Project Assistance (SPA) Program, which funds small scale self-help activities implemented by PCVs.

The volunteers applied to USAID’s SPA Program with their project idea of holding a digital media workshop to train PCVs on how to create entertaining and educational videos to communicate important health topics to those in their villages. The project met the criteria of being community-initiated and directed, promoting capacity building and having concrete objectives and was approved.

The USAID-funded digital media and storytelling training was held in the city of Fianarantsoa in March of this year and attended by eleven PCVs from all over Madagascar. Through this training, Olivia and her team learned the skills they needed to make a video on exclusive breastfeeding, which they produced during the workshop.

Working cooperatively, patiently, and with a lot of humor, the volunteers created an animated video using basic drawings of a Malagasy mother exclusively breastfeeding her infant for the first six months of its life. Narrated in Malagasy and accompanied by English subtitles, the video’s strength lies in its simplicity.

Peace Corps volunteers group photo at the media workshop
The Peace Corps Volunteers learned the skills to make the video during a digital media workshop funded through USAID’s SPA Program.
PHOTO: Peace Corps Madagascar

“(The PCVs) hope that this video will resonate with viewers so much that they share the information with their friends and family. We hope that this video plays a part in raising healthier, stronger babies here in Madagascar,” says Prentzel.

USAID is excited to work closely with Peace Corps and with volunteers in Madagascar who identify problems or challenges in their communities, develop solutions, and apply to USAID for the funds to carry out the projects. Together we are helping Madagascar on its development journey to self-reliance.

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Last updated: September 10, 2019

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