The hospital: Hopitaly Vaovao Mahafaly, BP 12, 415 Mandritsara, Madagascar, or
Bureau Tana: Hopitaly Vaovao Mahafaly, BP 5226, 101 Antananarivo, Madagascar.
Both addresses work, though items sent to Tana may take a little longer as they have to await transport to Mandritsara. Tell people not to send money or cheques to you in the post. Letters are frequently opened by people in search of money. Parcels are always opened by the customs and you may find some of the contents have disappeared by the time you receive the parcel. Parcels can take up to three months to arrive.
If you are coming for three months or more and want to receive small parcels, find out who else may be going to Mandritsara and ask if they could bring the parcel with them.
Since August 2015 it has been possible to receive a 3G internet signal. This is a great improvement from the old 2G service and has changed this guidance considerably.
It is now possible to use a smartphone, as well as a laptop (with a USB modem), to access the internet.
We recomend that you bring an unlocked phone (ie not locked to a specific network) so you can use a local number (SIM card and credit can be bought easily and cheaply everywhere – ‘Airtel’ has the best cover in Mandritsara). It is cheap to SMS.
Now that there is a 3G network in Mandritsara it is worthwhile bringing a smartphone. You will then be able to access you emails and other internet services, as well as make phone calls. We have prepared a list of ‘apps’ you may want to install on your smartphone – click here for the list.
You can borrow or buy a USB modem which will give basic access to the internet. Internet access costs around 7,000Ar (less than £2) per week to send and receive emails, plus some internet browsing – see Information, Using mobile phones for more details. The speed will be slower than you may be used to at home, so the use of on-line accounts, such as internet banking, will not be easy. Video Skype is not possible here, but people can use Skype to call your mobile phone.
If you are bringing a computer that is running Windows 8, 8.1 or 10 you may need to disable much of its on-line functionality in order to go on-line or send and receive emails easily, and save your online data credit. (But note that in Win 10 you cannot stop updates, which is a shame). If you are a regular user of social media, such as Facebook or Twitter, you may be less frustrated if you use these on a smartphone.
We would recommend bringing a surge protector to protect your laptop (and mobile phone, etc) while charging, and a 4-gang socket to plug into it to cater for your many devices!
If you are coming to Mandritsara for longer than a few weeks, we recommend using some email client software on your laptop, such as Outlook, Thunderbird, or a similar program, and NOT rely on web-based mail. You will need to install the email client on your laptop (and/or smart phone) before leaving your home country. Once the email software has been installed it is best to set up your incoming email as a POP3 account, and not as IMAP. The default option may IMAP (as it is with Gmail); but you will need to change this (by doing a manual setup) to POP3.
Once your email account is setup as POP3, then go online while still at home, open Outlook/Thunderbird and ‘send and receive’ all your emails. The first occasion you may get many hundreds, even thousands of emails. It is simply downloading all your online emails to your laptop. This is good, because you will then have them accessible when you are in Mandritsara. It also means that you will not have to download all these emails once you are in Mandritsara.
Most of the missionaries here have Gmail accounts, it is well known and others will be able to help you if you have a problem. It works well here and has good spam filtering, again saving wasted download time.
You can set a filter on your Outlook account to limit the size of emails downloaded (e.g. download headers only for emails over 50KB). You may also want to warn friends and family not to send large emails, and unsubscribe from other regular mailings with large attachments (over 200Kb!)
Please come prepared to work in this this way.