Manantane Babay: interview transcript

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Manantane Babay: interview transcript

Manantane Babay lives in Tanandava, Androy, Madagascar. He was 19 when he was interviewed on 27 April 2010 for the Rural Poverty Report 2011. The interview was recorded in the language of Tandroy and carried out by a staff member from the Andrew Lees Trust. The interviewer had an existing relationship with the community and had experience of in-depth interviewing from a previous oral testimony project undertaken with Panos London.

Today on this 27th day of the month of April, 2010 we are doing research with person here in the fokontany (administrative unit) of Bema-Tanandava of the Faux Cap commune. I thank you for being willing to participate in this work and for giving your time to converse with me. My name is Emilie and I work in ALT. What we're doing here is preparing a report on poverty for those who among the United Nations work in development  agriculture. IFAD is the name of that group. So the purpose of that report is to strategize a programme against poverty for the future; that will be published. There may be that which you see in that which is included from this conversation. I will be recording our conversation today so that nothing is lost or dropped or changed We may be here for an hour, the two of us. I encourage you to be open and willing to speak freely in whatever we have to converse about here. You are free, however, to refuse to answer a question if it is offensive to you, and we'll lay it aside. That's what I have to say about the reason for our visit.
Thank you and my name is Manantane Babay, 19 years, residing in Tanandava of the Bema Fokontany, Faux Cap.

You living here in Tanandava, Bema, then, is there something you particularly like about Tanandava?
Tanandava is my fatherland, that's what I like about it. Where I was born. I was born here in Tanandava and went to school, and kept at it, then when I was nine years old my father died His burial being completed, I went back to school and learned, learned, learned [repeated to convey the length of time]. By the time I was in 3rd grade I was 11 years old and my head wouldn't work anymore, I dropped out of school. So I planted, planted, planted, planted . But my head still wasn't in order after that farming and it wasn't working to stay (he was becoming restless). So I left, to try what others have done, working for wages in another place and land. So I went to Tulear, and pulled the posy (rickshaw) [repeated 3 times]; and could only make the rent for the posy, but I endured, many days, but I couldn't find [enough custom]. Other days, I'd bring in 1500 [ariary] (0.75 US$)1, the rent for the posy, I'd bring in 2000 and eat the 500. So there I was, there I was,, and then an elder relative died. So I went home, borrowing the bus fare for the journey. That burial accomplished, I went back, I returned to just pulling the posy. As I was pulling someone told me about a job digging jips (gypsum) in a quarry where chalk is found. So I went to that work, I dug and dug, and blistered my hands, it wasn't working either. I worked at it but it still wouldn't work. So I went back to pulling posy – pulling, pulling, pulling – and the most I could bring in was 5000, so I'd put away the 3000, eat the 500 and pay the posy rent with the 1500. Like that, like that, like that ...there,  there,  there, every day that again, but after a long time, I came home to here. I weeded, weeded, weeded, that cultivating wasn't succeeding so I fished, fished, fished. I left the fishing and the weeding, seeking paid work again, and it was always to Tulear, for I thought, this is close, so that if there is an illness here I can borrow a little to get home. And so I worked at pulling the posy as before. But that suffering had no end, it only got worse and increased. It got hold of  my soul. I'd try this avenue, try that, but it wouldn't leave me but ever pursued me.

You told me how at T3 (3rd grade) your head wasn't in it, so you quit school. Tell me more about why you decided to stop at T3.
What made me stop at T3: everyone else had (was well off); we were the height of not having anything. So my mind changed and I had the idea, why shouldn't we have, and maybe I can find it in cultivation. Lest I... so that's why I left that schooling. Arrived in that planting, and that didn't work either. That's why I left school.

Do you feel that education is important?
Indeed it's important, but it was my affliction that caused me to leave.

In that farming, did you have your own field, or did you help other family members in their fields.
I helped my mother. But then it was as if I became her back. It was to help her out as her husband had died, that she should find ease in her life, but that did not happen.

You being just a boy, had thoughts like that.
Yes at that young age God showed me... We have two fields, which my mother cannot manage. So I'll weed in this one and she'll weed in the other. Then I'd move over to here, weeding to help her there. But that affliction would not abate, but only increased. So concerning that schooling, I never thought of that again. We worked in the fields and worked in that weeding, but we it didn't succeed. I couldn't find how [voice raspy] to raise ourselves out of this misery.

What all do you plant in those fields?
What we plant in those fields is ampemba (sorghum), tsako (maize), vañemba, , (small red bean), antake (type of bean), bageda (sweet potatoes), balahazo (manioc), vazavo (watermelons). But that depends on the fairness of the weather, as when the rains come. There's a harvest when the rains come. Some is sold, some consumed, some stored away. And if we make say 10,000 in the market today, we'll purchase chicks with part of that. And the rest of that money will be put away, saved towards what life will bring. And so we continue to weed, but if the days are bad, and only the wind blows, with no rain, then we will have no harvest. Rain is necessary.

Now if you look back over 10 years, could you gauge for me what agriculture was like back then as opposed to agriculture now?
It's not the same, back then it was different (better) but at this time it's very difficult, for the lack of rainfall. The rains aren't falling now as they used to, before it's as if the rains were eager to come, now they don't come at all, or seldom. There's no food nearby, and at market all the kapaoke (standard measure of grain, 285gm) are costly.

For you, is agriculture what you'd like to go on with in your life?
Yes I'd like that to be my life, that agriculture, I grew up with it. My father raised me farming, and I don't find any other work that suits me, that's the work of my forefathers.

For you, do you perceive your methods of agriculture are changing, will you seek to change it according to experience?
I'm sure it will change if I can find someone who is like-minded. It (the crops) would be like a forest that would be unspoilt, still being fragrant2. And that would be improvement. I trust that it will change [voice rises in hope]. It will go far beyond the past if I can find someone who is like-minded with me.

You were talking about the difficulty of the weather, how the rains weren't coming. Have you heard anything in the global debate about climate change?
I have not heard, I just hold onto the hope that it will change, but I have not heard.

[Repeats her question]
No, I have heard nothing.

Now you said you'd gone away to Tulear and pulled posy, could you tell me more about that, how you came to that decision, did somebody guide you in that or did you just decide that's what you'd do?
Thinking, it was just my thinking which caused me to decide to migrate. What persuaded me to migrate was seeing other people having at least one cow, have sheep, have goats. But looking at us, we didn't have a single thing. No one told me to go and do this or that, but I guess God gave me that idea. So I went into pulling posy, but that didn't work [voice straining as if under a heavy load].

How old were you, pulling posy?
I was 15 yrs old. So I went directly from here to Tulear and pulled the posy each and every day. 1500 [ariary] was the rent for the posy, and I might gross 5000 in a day; of which I'd pay off the 1500 and eat 500, putting away the 3000. The next day I might not receive a thing so I have to extract 1500 out of what I'd saved, to pay the rent on that posy, but If I don't pay the rent, and that continues, he'll put me in jail, and my misery increased, me being miserable already. That's why that's paid. So I'd work from early morning, and I may find a little by noon to eat, if I receive I eat, if not I continue on that road of stone. Perhaps I'd get something by evening. Some days I'd receive, some days nothing.

Back in those days of working the posy, when you came home, what was the result of all your posy work?
I was able to have one lamb, and I raised that lamb, raised her, but then my mother's mother died and we had to use that lamb, so there went that lamb, and again we didn't have anything. That lamb that was our hope went with the death of our mother.

In regards to emigration, are you the only one who has gone, or have other of your relatives migrated?
Others have gone, they've gone just as I have, but it hasn't worked out. They haven't been able raise themselves up by going; going to Majunga, to Tulear, they haven't succeeded either.

Emigration to you then is to get out from under the difficulty of life.
Mm (yes). One believes he'll relinquish some of his poverty, that he'll find something small when he migrates. To find relief from poverty, to find something small, to purchase a cow, which cow would bear offspring... that's what one looks for in emigration.

For you then, besides farming; do you have other employment?
I do, I fish. When not farming I'm fishing, netting, diving, paddling, that's what I do: fishing.

Well then tell me about that fishing, since then you're employing the ocean.
In those times that there are no vazaha (foreigner) purchasing longuste (lobster) I drop that and don't work the lobster but sometimes for the catch of the net, there is no one to purchase it. So we smoke them, eat part and smoke the rest, the next day the sea may be rough and we can't work, so we take from those smoked and eat them. The weather is nice, we go with our hooks, we catch fish, then no one buys. There's no one that fetches them for export. If there is someone to take them as baggage we give them up. The money from that will purchase the kapoake to eat, will purchase a chicken, and when that income reaches in the 1000s to 10,000 [ariary] we purchase chickens, or clothes to wear. That's fishing.

Now you say you paddle; are you in an association for which you paddle, or do you have your own canoe, your own equipment?
The net I own myself, the hook and line I own, but for the canoe I'm in an association. Occasionally I'm not able to get up early enough and won't get a place on the canoe as there are many of us, and it fills fast, so I sit [around].

That canoe, do you believe it could raise your standard of living?
Fishing could really raise me up if I had a canoe and a shark net. That would really make me alive, raise me up.

How old were you that you began fishing?
From 12 years old I began to fish and it has continued to this day that I'm 19.

You were saying "if there's a vazaha to purchase the lobster...", is that to say there is not always a purchaser?
It's rare: but like this past year there was a vazaha that worked it, who bought them.  Some years he's not buying. They say they've stopped [selling] at the base, so no one purchases; but if they are working and they are purchasers for the netted fish, then we are really... that is one isn't really alive, but has something to eat. Having enough to eat, then after a week or so, one can buy a chicken, buy a sheep. As when one has the equipment he needs, a canoe, a shark net.

If you have something that brings you worry, who is it you go to with that concern?
If I have something that is bothering me, I take it to my mother, I'll tell her of my problems from here to there. So then she will guide me with: this is what will work for that, this is how you might mend that.

Is there an association among you?
There is [haltingly], there is that which is called a fishing association but not here.

Beyond fishing has there been some development work among you?
There has: that sorghum work.

Were you in that or?
I was still an-karama (lit: at wages; working elsewhere). I was not part of it.

Let's say there are some news over there, how is it that you hear the news?
In reference to what is said, regarding hearing news: we will go to visit a friend far away and will begin to update each other and he will tell me what is happening with him, "this is what life's like here, we have things like such here, we have, forbid the thought, someone who's died here," then I'll return home and retell what I've been given, "this is what's happening at such a place, and this is what they're doing". I'd bring them the news. It may be for those distant ones that a letter will inform us.

In fishing, say you make a good catch, may smoke some, and will market part of it, who is it that sells for you, who's your agent?
When I make a catch and smoke some then it's my mother who markets them. My mother, my older sister, they will sell them. If there is no immediate purchaser, or they can't sell them in market they will be smoked.

Do you have a wife?
I do not. I'd like to be married, but when I think of my mother, supporting her, I being the only one left for her support. I can't support two people now, much less that added person, and if she bears [a child] what will they eat? I'm still small (young), only 19 years old. I do think marriage is good, it keeps one from getting lost.

Let's say you are not fishing or farming, what kind of restful activity do you do here?
For recreation we'll just go... if [we have] not migrated, we'll go visit a friend. Like over in Ambaro I have a friend, and I'll go over and visit him: "What's it like, friend, how's the sea?" "Well the sea is like this or this." We'll do that until the setting of the sun and just carry on like that.

Is there no recreational pastime, like watching... I don't know?
If I'm not weeding, I'll still go out to inspect the field, then from there in the village, in the afternoon, I'll go and inspect it again, keeping an eye on it like that lest it be consumed by someone's cattle.

So in your fishing and farming, in your having pulled posy, and netted something, having purchased something, do you have animals now that you're raising?
I'm raising but only have one lamb.

And chickens?
I have that single chicken. That's all my animals, for the takings go on purchasing food, buying clothes, that's why I have few animals.

Is animal husbandry important to you?
That is very important, that is what really lifts up us Malagasy, lifts up us Tandroy.

You say ‘lifts you up', tell me why you so need to raise animals?
Raising animals is important, say a relative dies, then you fetch of those cattle to bring and bury that dead. If one has nothing to eat, he can sell a head of cattle for food. A family member is sick, so an animal is sold to take him/her to the hospital. Then there is that item one has been looking for, so the animal is sold and that's how one gets out of his troubles, that's what raises one up. Those goats! One wants to get married, he'll need about five according to what the in-law will demand, according to the claim of the father of the bride. So one will bring goats, about five; and the sheep…  If one would like to fetch a woman as a bride who is taboo to him, he needs the sheep to sacrifice for the blood cleansing, and will kill the sheep3. If there is something one needs, let's say he has not enough to eat, then taking of the sheep he'll sell, the goat and sell, and that chicken, but if it's a big thing, like that burial, then it's the cow that's moved into action for that. That can raise one up. One need not be nagged by people if one has something like that, only your lifting yourself up would put demands on you, but you wouldn't be in debt to anyone. That's what's good about having possessions.

To you, how would you describe "poor", rarake?
Rarake is one who owns absolutely nothing, like me, I'm rarake.  For let's say a death happened to me (in my family), then I'd really be poor, a burial added to being rarake. For then I'd have to sell my field, for I'd have no [other] recourse, I'm truly rarake at this time.

For you then, not to have a field, not to have cattle is rarake?
Mm, that's rarake. Not having a field, a cow, a sheep, a goat, a chicken, that's truly poor, for he has nothing against need, and must borrow from his relatives, must borrow from family to get out of trouble. That's rarake.

Do you have here in your community, anyone you would call rarake indeed?
There is, there are those who don't have even one chicken, and their clothes never change, there are...

What do you think causes that?
That person wouldn't have children, or having children doesn't have a field, and isn't part of a big family. For if she or he had a field, and did some cultivation having something to sell, from which to purchase clothes, to be able to change. Or if they are from a large family there will be someone who will provide clothes that they might change, they'd be pleased to purchase one thing for them.

In your opinion, what has brought a person to that status of living, that they do not have a field, no large family, no clothes to wear, what brought them to that place?
How they arrived there: they didn't really socialize. From the field they would go straight home. Then from their house back to the field. Then something struck here that they had to give up that small parcel of land, for instance a death that came up suddenly. And then they're in a fix, for they never visited people so they're not likely to receive any clothes from others.

If you take your family here, if you look at it in comparison to others, how do you see your family?
Our life does not compare with many, our livelihood is very difficult in comparison with others. Most others have at least a head of cattle or two, but we have no cattle, and only a sheep and a single chicken. Some are pleased to have five goats or about five sheep, about two head of cattle, and about 10 chickens. That's how I see our welfare distance from others around us.

Now let's have you compare your family with that rarake mentioned, who has no field or family, how do you compare then?
You mean that person who has nothing at all? Well the little difference between us is that we have a field shared by two. But for that field split by two and that single lamb, we'd be just like them, it's only those things that distinguish us [from them]. What keeps our family just above that level of rarake is that I try hard, I fish and make a little by fishing, and purchase clothes for my family, and fish again to purchase for others who didn't get any before. Then I might have a change of clothes also to change into. But this striving is what makes the difference from sitting [idle].

For you, then, is there some progress, in comparison to that one, is there progress or depression?
No, truly we are not the same as the one who has nothing, we've changed, in that we both fish and plant. If we're favoured with rain and have a harvest, we purchase clothes. The same with fishing. One fishes, nets, and makes a catch, then sells that, saves up for Monday when there are clothes to purchase and buys. And if one has been favoured with say 10,000 then there is a little extra for a chicken, having purchased the clothes. That's how we differ from that other one, we have change.

Have you noticed what it is that brings on that utter poverty, how do you see that?
I can't see it.

I mean something whereby you'd say this is the reason for not having a field, an animal, and makes one poor?
I don't know, but let's say one doesn't strive, one makes no effort, then one will move down from less to less and end up in poverty. If one will only move, then one can have a little money, say from fishing.

Do you believe that fishing is what can bring one out of poverty?
Well, fishing can make a difference, even if one doesn't get enough to sell, but one or two in a day, one has a meal and can sleep. Tomorrow is another day that may produce, that's why fishing can make a difference, one can save a mite to purchase clothes, one can eat, there is some hope in that.

What if illness or an accident befalls your family, what is your recourse?
If someone is sick, we'll part with the sheep and the chicken and beyond that have to borrow a cow from a relative and sell that for the treatment. Then I'll go fishing and diving in earnest to repay that thing. For he won't appreciate that I don't repay, so I must with good effort repay him. Really working I might catch 2000 [ariary] worth today and save the 1500, eating only the 500, and tomorrow also another 2000 and more saved towards repaying his cow.

Do you enter into an agreement with your relative as to the type or quality of animal to return to him?
Let's say the calf you borrowed from him is three years old, from its birth, then you should return one that's a little older and better than the one borrowed. So a larger animal would be the payment, but if one had sufficient land, one would say, "For that calf, would you take part of my field?", then agree to a division of the land with him. And that won't be a problem for he will say En (yes) to that also. 

Can you point to an individual that you'd say is the epitome of poverty?
Yes, there is:

What distinguishes them, to put them in that [category]?
They are those that have no field to go to, in the morning the children aren't herding cattle, in the evening there are no chickens fluttering in their yard, that's how they are known, they never go to a field, they're always in the village and the children don't herd in the morning, noon or night, they just sit there.

So what do they eat?
They will do daily work, weeding for pay. If there's weeding to do, I'll weed, he'll say, "Weed my field for 1000" and I'll weed it, then tomorrow he'll have another parcel for another 1000, but they suddenly are exhausted and can't continue, so they sit around. They'll eat that 2000 they earned, that's why they can't get ahead.  

Other than weeding, is there other means of income one could do in that state  to get out of that poverty?
There is. There is this trading, but if you can only make 2000, not having food, how can you without capital start to sell towards turning a profit? Given the insufficiency of cash in hand one cannot get into that small commerce.

This person makes a small income by weeding, now let's say there's no weeding work, what other form of such labour is available?
It would be according to his planning, whether to go into fishing or to migrate. He'd have to make that decision.

Is there really no other means of making a living?
There is, with the cattle man, go to someone who has cattle and say "Can you give me work herding cattle?" and he'll say, "What is your preference, monthly or yearly?" So you say, by the year, then in a year of herding you will net one cow. If on the other hand you go for the monthly wage, you may receive 10,000 or 20,000 [ariary], but there are not many who take that option. One who has 20 head of cattle or 18 head, he'll be the one to pay for herding. Then there is this water at Ejijy. When going there we'll bring two pails of water back, carrying them on a pole across the shoulder, getting 100 ariary per pail if [the person is] near, if distant it'll be 200 for a bucket, so if you return again at the 200 a bucket rate then you're free for the day in terms of food. That's another way to bring in money for those who have nothing.

Is there a season, or a month which brings on famine? What month would that be?
It does not depend on a certain month, but it may be that the rains don't come but only winds, driving wind, then famine follows from that. There not having been any rain, not once, then famine results. The rains don't come, the wind replaces it, so the sea is high (rough) so there's no fishing, the crops all wilt and die, the famine follows.

So what is there to eat?
If there are a few leaves of manioc then that, one can do the daba-rano; (carrying water) from the sea on the shoulder, doing it for 100-200 per pail, then that's the food; or do a job for someone, that is what can be turned into food.

If that happens, having a season like that, how many meals will a family eat in a day?
Twice... They will eat once. When the famine comes there will be only one meal a day if one finds it, but not finding it he will fast. In the morning we'll not eat, nor at noon, but only in the evening will one eat. If he didn't find, then he won't even eat that evening, nor morning nor noon, but will wait for the next day. If he finds, it will be evening. If there is raketa, (prickly pear) then it will be prickly pear for lunch and the kapoake for dinner. But if the raketa isn't ripe and the famine is rife, one will only eat an evening meal, or on the day that one gains more he'll divide it, having purchased 2 kapoake will have one at noon and the other in the evening. If one finds around 1000 [ariary]… Otherwise, not finding, one just sits around. But I'll make a quick trip to the sea to net, dive for sea urchins, my net doesn't catch but I'm favoured with finding a single urchin, but I'm not satisfied, and will try netting again, this time I might make a catch and run home with that and it'll be boiled, and there's the broth to drink and we're free today. Tomorrow is another day of the same, diving, netting, and I'll bring the urchin and a fish for cooking.

What do you think, or dream of will be your lot in 10 years?
I really hope to have improved by them, having some possessions (animals), and my family is all healthy, that my position then will be different from my position now. That I'd have possessions, my dream in prison4.

What kind of possessions do you hope to have?
I mean that I'd have a few head of cattle, sheep, goats, and chickens, that I'd have many chickens. Then my life would have changed, I'd say it was ok. And then I'd feel better about myself, and my mother prodding me I may fetch the daughter of a man. But If I don't have the one, I can sell one of those animals for it, then I'd be able to support.

Then how would the life of your children be, would it be different than your childhood?
I forever believe that it will be different, I do believe that it will be better. I say different, for I'm in heavy affliction now, and if suddenly [I found myself] with a child now, he'd see my misery and be in the same affliction. My father had exerted himself in the sea, fishing, and in the field, and made us what we are, so I hope that we will progress yet more.

So your thoughts are that your children will also be farmers and fishermen. Is that how you figure it?
As I see it, it should be as such.

For if I still have the strength, it will find me a fisherman, and they must learn the same, if not I will teach them, and they will fish with me if I'm still strong.

So you don't have thoughts of teaching them through school to the end?
Schooling is indeed good, but if one does not make a living, then there is fishing to fall back on. Education is good, but he must learn how to fish at the same time to have an avenue of making a living in the difficult [times]. There are days that they aren't at school, so he will be here learning this, and become good at both.

What do you expect for them, to be farmers or fishermen?
The first would be fishing though agriculture can't be neglected. Farming cannot be going on too far from him, but he'll be in that as well. But in fishing he must be an expert, for when the rains don't come and there's nothing to eat, he can go to the sea for some urchin, net for some fish, and be free of want that day. 

What advice have you for your younger siblings or other youth, out of your experience. What would you offer them?
What advice I would give them: since my meals mostly come from the sea, I'd advise them to learn the ways of the ocean and fishing, to make an effort at that. Go into the fields, plant, but don't distance yourselves from the sea for that will be more frequented. For as in my case, we would be at the lowest point of not eating, but for my fishing. For in the sea you'll fish, dive for urchin, net, line fish, find a deda (large shellfish), have fish for supper or the broth of the urchin. That's what I'd advise them.

For you then, the ocean is very important to you?
It's very important to us, and my father also worked it. That's why I like it, it provides the little food that I eat.

Now if you were assigned to lead a development effort here, what would you suggest? What would you do first?
The first thing I'd do is [get] that canoe. A canoe, a jarifa (shark net), for if I had those two things, the canoe and shark net, I'd consider myself alive. I mean that I'd be living in having 10 head of cattle or five, I'd have that kind of support.

That would be your first: what's your second?
Secondly, I'd look for larger fields, to plant sorghum, and maybe a whole field of corn, and farm it as an association. When that association had a harvest we'd store the produce in a granary; and the sorghum, if there are some open hectares, we'd also put that harvest up in the granary.

To you, what is it to succeed?
To me success is having possession;: and having that [work] which suits him, if he doesn't do badly in that work of training he must succeed.

Let's say Joe (generic term for an ordinary man) over there has succeeded, what would be the marks of his success?
The signs of his success: he's seen driving cattle (to water), he herds sheep, his clothes change, and he's not as he was before, sitting around, he now has what he's working on, a profession, and we'd say Joe's made it.

What led him to succeed?
What made him succeed? Perhaps he was in an association that performed well, so that he could gain in time, and say there was a canoe, and I'd work in that canoe and find income in that canoe, finding 5000 [ariary] today and another 5000 tomorrow. That 10,000 should net a sheep. The days after also, another 10000, and that would be another sheep. I'm already on the way to making it, having two sheep. So my life would progress in stages on the road to success.

To you then, among you here, can you point to one of whom you can state: He has made it!?
There is, but what he did first was go to Majunga and pull posy, pull posy, indeed he did have a few cattle with his father but not many, so he pulled posy and he had no problems, and his income was steady so he purchased posy and that came to 300,000, and he purchased posy again now for 400,000 and bought posy again, he kept buying posy until [he had] many, then sold off all those and came home to purchase cattle. He then returned again and purchased posy for renting out, then he returned again and purchased cattle, his cattle increased in number as did his sheep and goats.
So is that what you propose to do?
I believe I can make it, being young. Yes, even if I was old I'd expect that I could succeed. I'm never depressed, but always hopeful.

Are you then thinking of going to Majunga also then in order to succeed like they did?
I often dream of going to Majunga, but what would I do with my mother, so I stay here striving with my fishing, for how else could I do it?

Can you recall a time when you were truly happy?
A day that brought happiness would be like the time I went fishing and caught about 30 fish. That made me happy for not only eating today but there was plenty for tomorrow also. I was really pleased with that, we even had food to eat on the third day. My head was not spinning in concern for each day's meal for I had respite for three days of meals.

Could you think of a day that was as one day in a hundred in your life?
What I was really happy at is when my brothers from Tulear or those from Majunga came home. That was a time of real joy. It's not that they brought a single thing, but that they are family, and we hadn't seen each other in a long time, that's what was joyful.

Where would you like to be in 10 or 20 years? Still at what you are doing or where would be the joy of your heart?
There is a place I'd like to go, but if there is some development for our fishing here, I would not think of leaving. For that would bring its own success. I don't think that fishing cooperative will succeed, but then again it might in another decade or two. But I don't know how else to care for my mother, her hope is in no one else but in me, there is none to support her but me. So if I went she would suffer, being old.

Is there some training or education you could use to further you?
Indeed, I'd need that, some project, research, a supporter, "Here's what we'll do, we'll plant," with support, "and we'll do this kind of project". That would be great, and I think it will happen.

I mean, you're a fisherman, that's where you have the most success, what kind of training would you like in that profession of yours, for instance salting fish.
Yes, salting fish, and splitting it up well, rubbing in the salt...

Ok, but you know that, I mean something you don't know.
There is that which I don't know. Let's say we've made a good catch and don't know how to deliver it, how to market it. Let's say there is support for us to make a good harvest [of fish] but have no way to get the fish to market. I don't know how to make that work.

You mean in commercialization, whom should the fish be exported to?
Yes in that.

That's regarding fishing, and you know all the other techniques?
Well I know how to salt fish, frying them, smoking them, but this exporting, and marketing, that's what I don't know.

Is there something you'd like to say in addition to what's been talked about?
What I'd like to say is that maybe you will be the ones to raise my livelihood, that's what I'd like, it appears that you are raising us up at this time. There might be a canoe for an association and you'd be the one in charge of that, for fishing won't cease to be my livelihood, and I expect that still to be my way of advancing. And that would bring me up and enliven me. I'm hoping in you for my life.

Thank you for sharing this past hour or so with me. You really talked from your heart, so it's thanks that I want to give, but before closing let me ask you a few things. Do you accept all of that interview we have just done together; that it be incorporated into a report on Rural Poverty Report with FIDÀ?
I accept.

Lest there was something in that interview that you do not like, that you said but shouldn't be let out, but ought be held for a secret between us, that ought not to be entered in that report.
No, I accept all that's there and my heart is clear on all that was said.

So in whose name would you like this interview to be registered?
In the name of Mme Emilie?

[Chuckles] Will you also accept having pictures taken of you that could go in the report?
I accept that, and there's nothing in that I wouldn't accept but rather it would please me.

Do you need a copy of what we've done on paper or on CD for you personally?
I'd like it to be... It would be nice to have it on paper and also as a CD.

I'd like both.

Thank you again then, our interview is concluded, so I thank you— What is your name?
Manantane Babay.

19 years old?

Thanks a lot then,

1/ Average exchange rate (1996 ariary = 1US$), November 2009, Interbank rate, source:

2/ The unmarred Tandroy forest has a particular fragrance; he is comparing a field to a forest to say that it is not sparce but thick.

3/  A woman is taboo to a man if she is from his mother's side of the family. This taboo, however, can be overturned with a blood sacrifice, sheep in this case

4/ Translator's comment: Her concluding statement is a simile to describe her own predicament, she is imprisoned by poverty