SeFAM Visit in Antsirabe

The first two Norwegian missionaries Nils Nilsen and John Engh held the first Lutheran service in Madagascar in the city Betafo west of Antsirabe in 1868. Antsirabe was founded by T.G. Rosaas in 1872 as a hill station to serve as a retreat centre because of the much cooler climate and there are hot springs there as well. Churches were founded, schools begun, a hospital and eventually a residential school for children and youth who are visually impaired and one for those unable to hear.

We drove from the capital to here, a 100 mile trip lasting four hours because of the many twists and turns on a road with many potholes. We came first to the nursing school in Antsirabe known by the acronym SeFAM on a fact-finding trip. We brought Shanta Parker and her husband Chris. Shanta is the director of Medical Mission Aid to learn if scholarships might be awarded for a few girls from Nofi I Androy. SeFAM was originally begun by American missionaries at Fort Dauphin, but moved here for its more central location. They have a three year program awarding diplomas to nurses, midwives and lab technicians. About 125 male and female high school graduates apply each year for 50 spots. Its sad that so many of the students families are unable to afford the $500 annual tuition. Room and board is about the same amount. The Malagasy Lutheran Church has a vision to hand a medical dispensary in each of 300 districts. It's going to take a lot of new funding.

Early tomorrow we go to the School for the Visually Impaired, meet with Dr. Elson and his wife Hanitra about their work and the upcoming Evangelists Summit.

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