Picture the quintessential American high school gymnasium. What do you imagine?
When I close my eyes and think of my previous school gym, I see banners of accolades, awards and record times, I see bleachers and basketball nets, snack stands and score boards. There, tucked away in the corner, banished to the storage closet, I also remember the number of ball carts with various sports balls, anything from volleyballs and basketballs, even dodgeballs and kickballs. Soccer balls are there, too. These are plentiful and not given a second thought, sometimes even misused and battered by mischievous or energetic players.
This is not the case at a Madagascar school.
For about 10 days, I traveled with SEED Madagascar and the Teneo members around southern Madagascar to various local schools. We saw old schools, brand new schools, potential school sites, and novel school foundations. On first arrival at a typical school in the southern part of Madagascar, we saw students inside the cement building learning how to write the letter “P,” while a group of older students, perhaps on a break, played and ran outside in the sandy school yard, playing with a homemade ball. When suddenly introduced to a new soccer ball, the students outside were overjoyed, and if it were not for the headmaster eventually ending the activities, I have no doubt they would have kept right on jumping and laughing and playing without end. I later learned those exact students had walked many, many kilometers that day just to get to school.