A village in Madagascar now enjoys better access to clean drinking water thanks to efforts by Court Fields School.

An inauguration ceremony has been held for the installation of a safe water system in the town of Imerikapoza, which Court Fields contributed toward installing.

Children and families lined the streets of the town, where two Madagascar television stations arrived to film the proceedings.

Nicole Donaldson, director general of the Madagascar Development Fund said: "The local priest opened the proceedings with a prayer and short service, before welcoming the guests and authorities,  and thanking them for attending the inauguration ceremony.

"He thanked and blessed Court Fields School and MDF’s other partners who had contributed to the total project cost, (Friends of Hassocks Infant School, Dunstable Rotary Club, Vanilla Corporation of America, and Mr and Mrs Woodhall) and all those who had participated in the construction of the new water system, for their generosity in giving his community “the precious gift of clean water”.

"He urged the villagers to take good care of the new installation so that it lasts “not only for us, our children and families but also for future generations to come. If we do not take good care of it it means we do not respect God, Court Fields School or the other generous donors who funded the project”. He ended his comments by wishing the  population good health and every success in life.  

"The priest’s comments were followed by a short speech from a rather shy representative of the villagers who expressed his and their thanks and appreciation to Court Fields School and other donors for bringing development to his community.  

 "A group of school children then recited a poem , the main message of which was that water absorbed by the earth brings good things, and should be protected. The Mayor’s Advisor, who is a member of the village Water Committee,  spoke next. “The sky is too high to reach to express our happiness at your visit to this remote place, and the inauguration of this precious gift of safe, clean water.  We have been trying since 2006 to find a source of funding to restore our water supply. This project is truly a gift from heaven thanks to Court Fields School, MDF and its partners.  We are so so happy and very very grateful.” 

"It is usual for performances of traditional dancing and singing to be included in the programme for project inaugurations.  But on this occasion they were replaced by poems, another of which was recited at this stage by the children.  Both poems were written especially for the occasion by the Head Teacher of the local school, and focused on protecting nature and the environment.  

"Members of the village Water Committee, who are responsible for maintaining and repairing the new water installation, were asked to stand up and were introduced by name to the villagers and invited guests. For the first time in MDF’s experience a Committee member read out, for the benefit of the villagers, the government’s “Water Code” which contains the laws and rules governing the use of water. The Committee Chairman took the opportunity to thank a representative of the Ravelonarivo family for their generosity in allowing the natural spring located on their land to be used as the basis of the new water installation. 

"Before I took the floor for my own speech, I was presented with a large bouquet of gladioli – as a token of the villagers’ appreciation. (As a flower lover, this really made my day.)

"I began by expressing my appreciation for the villagers’ warm and joyful welcome and my happiness at attending this inauguration. I told them how proud the villagers must be to have helped create something from which present and future generations will benefit. But all of this would not have been possible, I said, without the community’s cooperation with MDF’s team.

"I took the opportunity to give background to the partnership between Court Fields and MDF,  gave details of the other projects you have financed previously. and explained what MDF does and how we operate. I asked the community to reward Court Fields by taking good care of the new water system so that when their representatives visit Madagascar they will find it in just the same condition we see it in today. 

"I also took the opportunity to remind the villagers of how badly global warming is affecting our planet, and urged them to take the threat seriously.  I congratulated the Head Teacher for raising awareness, through the medium of her poems, some of which we had heard that day, and encouraged the villagers to plant more trees and  stop burning the forest.  

"Advice is readily available, I told them,  from the  regional office of the Ministry of Water on how to protect the spring and prevent it from drying up. I ended my speech by wishing the villagers good health and success in their lives, particularly  now that they have more time to contribute to the development of the area,  and no longer have to spend valuable time searching for and fetching water to satisfy their needs. 

"The Mayor followed me with a short speech. He started by welcoming the  guests and local authorities, and thanked them for attending this important event. His speech was full of appreciation for Court Fields School’s support, and thanks to the villagers for their contribution to the project’s success by digging  trenches and foundations and supplying sand and stones. He congratulated the villagers on acquiring their new water installation, and thanked them for setting up the Water Committee which was vital in ensuring the continued good functioning of the system.  

"The Mayor took this opportunity to ask the local MP’s representative to pass on to him his thanks for having initiated this project and presented it to MDF for consideration. “NGOs and even the government tend to undertake only projects with easy access.  Despite Imerikapoza’s remoteness MDF had not been deterred, and you came to our help. We are very grateful.” He ended his speech by asking  me to pass on to Court Fields his heart felt thanks for helping to fund this project. “Please tell our dear friends overseas how touched we are by the love they have shown for our poor, remote community by installing this life-saving water system.” 

 "The speeches concluded with one from the representative of the MP for Analamanga who thanked God for giving us such a beautiful day for this inauguration, and expressed his great pleasure at taking part in the celebrations. He apologised for the MP’s absence, explaining that  he had to attend a session of Parliament, and on the MP’s behalf congratulated the community and local authorities on acquiring their new water installation which would greatly improve the health and well-being of the population of Imerikapoza. He too expressed his appreciation for the  other projects funded by Court Fields and MDF’s other, generous partners, and asked me to pass on to you his message of thanks and appreciation.

"The speeches over, the authorities unveiled commemorative plaques in English and Malagasy, before leading the guests to visit some of the new water standpipes and on to a sit down meal of rice and meat organized by the villagers. My MDF colleagues and I are proud to be part of Court Fields’ efforts to bring development to desperately poor and vulnerable communities such as this, and I take this opportunity to thank you once again for your exceptional and continued support."