Friends of Mandritsara – Volunteers

General orientation


Madagascar: Geography, climate and economy

Madagascar is a large island with climates varying from tropical rain forest to temperate.

Mandritsara (1000ft or 300m) is hot and wet from Jan-March, warm from April to May, cool and dry from June to August and warm and dry from September to December. It is never really cold. In Tana, however, it can get down to freezing at night in June to August and you need warm clothing in the evening/early morning.

Madagascar is one of the world’s poorest countries with few natural resources. Most exports are agricultural products (vanilla, cloves, coffee, etc.).

Madagascar: History, politics, language

President Ratsiraka, who was president during the communist era, was removed from power in 1993, but re-elected 4 years later. From 1997 there was a trend toward decentralisation of power towards the regional centres. In December 2001 presidential elections were held and Ratsiraka and Marc Ravalomanana were declared to be the two front-runners to go through to the second round. However Ravalomanana declared that he had over 50% of the vote and on 22 February 2002, after massive street protests in Antananarivo, declared himself the new president. A situation of stalemate ensued, with general strikes, cancellation of most international flights, and a blockade of the capital. After negotiations in Senegal and a recount of votes, Ravalomanana was declared the official winner of the December elections at the end of April 2002. This was however contested by Ratsiraka. After an internal struggle and some fighting, Ravalomanana gained control of the whole country and was recognised by the international community as the legitimate president. Ratsiraka left for France in early July. Since that date there has been peace and stability in general. Ravalomanana was re-elected for a second term in peaceful elections in December 2006. In January 2009 trouble flared up following opposition to the government from the Mayor of Antananarivo, Andry Rajoelina. This led to burning and looting of shops, the shooting of many people in demonstrations and finally a section of the army helped Rajoelina to seize power. Ravalomanana fled to South Africa. Rajoelina’s regime was not recognised by most of the international community and the country fell into economic crisis during his presidency. Elections were held in late 2013, and in January 2014, Hery Rajaonarimampianina (known simply as Hery by most!) was elected President.  Since the coup of 2009, there have been isolated incidents of violence and unrest in Tana.  Tensions remain high so please be vigilant particularly in Tana.

Malagasy is the official language of Madagascar (as well as French). “Official” Malagasy is the written language and is the native tongue of the Merina who live on the high plateau around Antananarivo. The people who live around Mandritsara are the Tsimihety. Their dialect has many differences of vocabulary and grammar.

Madagascar: Christian history

“Triumph in Death” (Vélona in French) by F. Graeme Smith, gives a good history of the coming of the gospel to Madagascar. The first missionaries (two Welsh couples) arrived in 1818. Despite enormous difficulties the gospel made good progress and by the early 1830’s the Bible had been translated into Malagasy. There was a period of severe persecution by the queen of Madagascar in the 1830’s and 40’s and many were martyred.  This book is available to borrow in Oasis guesthouse.

The Bible Baptist Churches: history and structure

In 1932 Brynlee Evans, from south Wales, and his wife, started working in Antananarivo. He preached the gospel, planted a church and trained leaders. When they left in 1944 the church was known as the Bible Mission. Other local churches were planted and an association of evangelical churches was formed which later took the name of FFBBM, the Association of Bible Baptist Churches of Madagascar. There are now around 150 churches, mostly on the high plateau and around Toamasina on the east coast, but also in other parts of the island. There is an annual general meeting and an Administrative Council of the association.

Hopitaly Vaovao Mahafaly: history and organisation

In December 1988 Africa Evangelical Fellowship (AEF) signed an agreement with FFBBM for a medical/evangelistic project in NW Madagascar. After consultation with the Ministry of Health, Mandritsara was chosen as the location of the project. The first AEF missionaries arrived in Madagascar in 1992, and moved to Mandritsara in 1993. Building was begun in late 1993. A small outpatient clinic was opened in town in February 1995 and the first phase of the hospital was opened in May 1996. Phase 2, with two inpatient blocks was opened in November 1998 and patients were admitted to the first ward in January 1999. The “Bloc Polyvalent” including the eye department was opened in February 2001 and the new theatre block in December 2003. A Maternity block, a Community Health block and the first of two buildings for the School of Nursing (Ecole Supérieure pour la Formation des Infirmiers – ESFI) were completed in October 2006. Accommodation for short term visitors (Oasis Guesthouse) was built from 2007-2009. Three new staff houses and a second building for the Nursing School were completed during 2012.  The project also includes the Good News School (Ecole Bonne Nouvelle – EBN) and the Voice of the Good News radio station (Feon’ny Vaovao Mahafaly – FVM).  The principal goal of the project is to preach the gospel and plant local churches.

Mandritsara Bible Baptist Church

The Bible Baptist church in Mandritsara started in 1990. There are now about 160 members and 70 villages with churches or cell groups. The church building was inaugurated in August 2005.  An adjacent home for Pastor Julien was completed in 2013. Pastor Julien leads the church with Dr Adrien as an Elder. A number of the deacons also work for the project.

The Mandritsara Bible Baptist church, and village churches, are independent local churches within the FFBBM.  Though not part of the HVM project organisationally, these churches, and the work of these churches, remains linked in fellowship to the project in Mandritsara.

Amis de Mandritsara – Friends of Mandritsara (AM-FM)

In 1998, when AEF was incorporated into “Serving in Mission” (SIM), the FFBBM assumed overall responsibility for the HVM project.  The missionary team at that time comprised six long-term missionaries from four countries, who were sent through four different sending agencies.  In order to facilitate working together with the missionaries, the FFBBM requested them to form themselves into one local organisation.   Amis de Mandritsara-Friends of Mandritsara (AM-FM) was therefore created by this group of missionaries and was first registered as an organisation in Madagascar.    Subsequent to this, a registered charity was set up in the UK under the name ‘Friends of Mandritsara Trust’ (FOMT).   This is also a registered company limited by guarantee.  AM-FM was then registered in Madagascar as an ONG (a non-governmental organisation) which is its legal status here.  As a result of this, AM-FM was granted an ‘Accord de Siege’ which enables us to get long-term visas.

The FFBBM has therefore one partner organisation in Mandritsara, AM-FM, which is the Mandritsara field team for the Friends of Mandritsara Trust.  All foreign missionaries working with FFBBM in Mandritsara, do so as part of AM-FM.  This is our legal body in relation to the Madagascar authorities, and is also our fellowship and organisational body as far as our relationship with the FFBBM and its project in Mandritsara.

Amis de Mandritsara – Mission statement

Our Mission, in partnership with the Bible Baptist Churches of Madagascar, is to glorify God by:

  • Proclaiming the Good News of Salvation through Jesus Christ
  • Teaching the Bible
  • Caring for those in need as Jesus did

We do this, in Mandritsara and beyond, through personal involvement and practical help to:

  • The Good News Hospital, Mandritsara (HVM)
  • The Good News School, Mandritsara (EBN)
  • The Voice of the Good News Radio Station, Mandritsara (FVM)
  • The Nursing Training School at Mandritsara (ESFI)
  • The Mandritsara Bible Baptist Church (FBBM) and Sunday School
  • The Village Churches linked to the Mandritsara Bible Baptist Church
  • The Training of Village Church leaders
  • Other places and ministries as the Lord may lead.

Amis de Mandritsara – Team values:

• In Christ

We, the Amis de Mandritsara, are called by God to serve Him in Mandritsara.  We are obedient to the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20) and each member is active in evangelism and discipleship.

We are grounded in God’s Word and empowered by His Spirit.  We are committed to praying for the work, for each other and for those to whom we minister.

We belong to the body of Christ, the Church, and we individually demonstrate our belonging through offering ourselves and the gifts that God has given us, by serving in the local church.

We are a team of servant-hearted disciples, dependent on God for everything.

• In Partnership

We are here in Mandritsara to glorify God by working in partnership with the FFBBM in bringing the gospel to the people of Madagascar.  We are here at the invitation of the FFBBM and we willingly place ourselves under the direction of the HVM Project Director as their representative.

We recognise that we have unique connections with people, churches, and organisations throughout the world and each member has a responsibility to encourage support for the project from within Madagascar, and from overseas.

Each member will look for opportunities to preserve and strengthen these partnerships.

• In Community

We want to be part of this community, and be loving neighbours.  We will therefore resist any temptation to be living exclusively in the ‘compound community’.  We show our loving concern for the community of Mandritsara through compassionate care for people, both body and soul; and by seeking to develop friendships with those living here, especially through giving and receiving hospitality.

We recognise that a significant factor in our belonging is our ability to communicate in the heart language of those that we live amongst i.e. the Tsimihety people, and by our understanding of the local culture.  We therefore come with a learner-attitude, and are committed to seeking deeper cultural insight and on-going language learning.  Each member should be working towards being able to communicate in the Tsimihety dialect.

• In Team

We believe that we are more productive working together as a team, and sharing together in fellowship.  However, we also recognise that working in a team, particularly in a high stress environment, can lead to conflict.  We will therefore always seek to love one another, bear with one another, care for one another, be humble, gentle and patient, build one another up and will avoid gossip.  We commit to carrying one another’s burdens and will seek to develop a culture of grace and forgiveness, where mistakes can be made without fear of condemnation.

We want to be intentional in our ministry i.e. we want to ensure that what we are doing is what we should be doing.  We take time therefore to identify what is important, and accountability (including, but not limited to, reviews undertaken by the Team Leader) is provided to help each member to achieve their ministry goals.

Understanding that the task is huge and that our team and our resources are limited, we are committed to multiplying skills by openly sharing (both giving and receiving) knowledge through training, and we facilitate training where needed.


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