I find it ironic that the previous blog is about my love story with Marzette and Solange.
Because this blog is about them leaving Madagascar.
It was a quick turn of events. Last Sunday, January 27th I was sitting with Marzette, folding clothes and somehow we got on the topic of telling each other how much we adore the other person and why. It was sappy and special and beautiful. But Marzette had a sadness in her eyes and I was very confused.
She told me that she was going to miss me. I told her I still had 6 more months here.
She told me that I needed to be friends with her sister, Flaviette, because she is new to ILOFAV and doesn’t have many friends here. I didn’t understand.
And then she told me that her and Solange had made plans to leave Madagascr to work for two years and that they would leave in February. And I lost it. It was so sudden, so unexpected.
And then she explained things a bit to me.
Since being at ILOFAV (the women’s center), they haven’t been working. They will sew things for people to earn a bit of cash, but most of the money they receive is from their mother in Sambava (a 2-3 day bus trip) – which just enough money to buy food and a couple necessities. Since the political crisis here in 2009, there has been a lot of job loss and so it’s been difficult for them to find a job. So they got in contact with an agency that recruits Malagasy to work minimum wage (or less) jobs in a different country. Marzette named ones such as Maurice, Cambodia, Canada and a couple others that I don’t remember. But they chose Kuwait because it would only take a couple months for the paper work to come through, whereas for other countries, it could take a couple years. And Marzette told me that her and Solange needed to start working as soon as possible.
They mentioned to me a couple times “Saraha, we will go to work in abroad and after two years we will come to America to visit you.” But I didn’t realize that it would be so soon. I guess I should have inquired more.
Then on Tuesday, January 29th Marzette came up to my loft (well, our loft – she had become my roommate recently, which I loved. She called my spare room “my house”. We bickered and loved like sisters and it was awesome). She gave me a hug and said “Saraha, please can you take me and Solage to the airport on Sunday?” I lost it again. “WHAT!?! I thought you were leaving in February?” She held me as I started crying. “Yes, our paperwork just finished and Sunday is in February.”
Solange came up to join us and the tears continued. They comforted me and consoled me, the way the always have, and tried to cheer me up. “If we go abroad,” Solange said “It will preparing us to go to America - very good in speaking English, so don’t be sad.” There was nothing I could do at this point to change their mind or talk them out of it. I had 5 and a half days left with my beautiful friends whom I consider sisters. So I made a list of what we needed to do within those 5 days (some in English, some in Malagasy).
- Play slap jack
- Popcorn and movies
- Sarah make/teach friendship bracelets
- Set up facebook for Marzette
- Mitsangatsangana isan’andro (Go for a walk every day)
- Misotro Coka sy THB (Drink Coke and THB – a weirdly delicious Malagasy drink)
- Mihira betsaka (Sing a lot)
- Marz matory miaraka amin’ny Saraha amin’y tranay (Marzette sleep with Sarah in our house)
Although they were very busy with last minute goodbyes and things to do, and I still had my normal work schedule, we were able to do all of those things.
In addition to our list, we got to skype with all 4 of my sisters that week. Because Stephanie was the only one to meet my Malagasy sisters in person, I wanted the others to have a taste of what Marz & Solange were like. It was very special for everyone. Later, Marzette commented about how my family has such “good hearts”. And then she said “My God, give me a good heart like Sarah’s family.” You can bet I cried then too.
I cried just about every day this past week. Some were tears of appreciation for the opportunity to grow in friendship and love with these beautiful Malagasy women. Some were tears of confusion and anger at why they had to leave. Some were tears of concern for their wellbeing and safety in a country they (and I) knew nothing about. But mostly, they were tears of just pure sadness.
My time at site placement is just barely at the half way point. And it’s been difficult to imagine what my life here would be like without them. There was so much more laughter to be had, more songs to be sung, more lessons to be learned, more love to be shared. But this situation was and is totally out of my control. So all I could do was pray and hope that it’s for the best… and cherish every moment I had with them… although I already cherished them immensely.
On Saturday, their last full day here, Lee (the other YAGM in Tana) came to hang out with us. Despite him being under the weather, he took the 2ish hour buses ride (more than one bus) to spend time with us and accompany me to drop them off at the airport the next day - cuz Lord knows I was gonna be a hot mess at the airport and needed some moral support. His presence and support here during the last days of Marzette and Solange meant the world to me and I was so blessed by his company.
That day, we introduced the girls to breakfast burritos, hung out and drank coca cola, and waited for them as they said their goodbyes to other people at ILOFAV.
But my favorite part was Saturday night. We played a hilarious game of slap jack and reminisced about the trip we took to Ampefy in November. Well, it was more like "Story time with Marzette" - in which she used objects like a candle, spoon, and cell phones to represent the four of us and what happened in Ampefy. Then Lee and I amused/scared them with ipod karaoke, I sang a song I had written about/for Marzette, and we enjoyed each other’s company as we just hung out. And by golly I laughed a lot! I felt incredibly blessed to be able to spend that night with the three who are so dear to my heart here in Mada.
Sunday morning I woke up with a heavy heart. I went to see if they needed help packing, but they were already finished. Each of them had a small duffle bag, the size of a carry on, which held their belongings for the next two years.
We needed to walk into town to catch their ride to the airport. It would have been somber, but Marzette doesn’t really “allow” things to be somber. Her high heels made it difficult for her to walk on the cobble road so when she wasn’t tripping or stopping to fix her shoes, she was walking barefoot. I tried to give her a piggy back ride, but her pants were too big and kept falling down. But the road was still muddy and wet from the rains and she didn’t want her feet to get wet and dirty. It was quite the predicament, but it was so funny!
When we arrived at the airport, they had a posy of friends wishing them “Soava Dia” (“bon voyage” or “good Journey”). We patiently waited until it was time for them to go. I kissed them and hugged them tightly, and tried to express how much I loved them. We watched them through a glass window as they blew kisses, made the “I love you” sign with their hand, and turned the corner.
When I got back home, the water works continued. Lee let me cry on his shoulder and comforted me in my fear, confusion, and sadness. He helped me remember that there is yet more beauty to be experienced here in Madagascar, more English to teach, more friends to make, more lessons to learn. “They wouldn’t want you to dwell in this sadness." He said patiently, "Be grateful for the time you had together." And then he added "Yell at the walls if you have to.”
That night I went down to their room, where there was only their sister, Flaviette. She doesn’t speak much English, but I could tell that my heart wasn’t the only heavy one. I sat down next to her and we cried together.
Earlier this week, Marzette & Solange had some friends over. When it was time for the friends to go, we all walked them to the bus station. Marzette, Solange and I walked as we normally do – arm in arm, hand in hand, while singing a song. Their friend later commented that they hang on me like I’m their “nonosy” or “teddybear” – I’m going to miss being their teddybear.
In my last blog, I asked for prayers in appreciation for their presence in my life. Now I ask for prayers for their safety and wellbeing as they go work in Kuwait as housemaids to earn $200 USD a month. They left their family and friends and pregnant sister, Flaviette, so that they can work in a foreign country. All I can do is trust that God is holding them close.
I am so incredibly humbled and blessed to have gotten the opportunity to walk with these beautiful women. Their presence in my life here in Madagascar has been SUCH a blessing! Although I will and do miss them terribly, I can only hope and pray that they will be safe and that when their contract is up in two years, they can return home safely...and maybe come for a visit to Minnesota, or as Solange says "Minnesaotra" (saotra means "Thank you").
Thank you, Marzette and Solange, for walking with me (literally and figuratively) in Madagascar, for teaching me about friendship, being a constant wave of support, and showing me Christ's love.
|Marzette and I in our trano (house)|
|Marzette, Lee, and Solange in Ampefy (November)|
|Solange was the only one ready for this photo... hahaha!|
|We were really excited about making MINNESOTA RICE! (Thanks to my mom who sent it with Stephanie)|
At :26 Marzette says "you drunk up?" No, Marz, that's just Lee :)
Love ya, mean it! And as Marzette and Solange say "Love you long time!"