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One of the first projects for the Aura Cacia 1% Fund was building a preschool near the village of Ambohimena, Madagascar, for the children of families who pick organic ylang ylang flowers. The nearest school to Ambohimena is in neighboring Ambanja, which is over seven miles away, and the main means of transportation is by foot. The new school building is within sight of the trees where the parents pick ylang ylang flowers.
The building is a two-room schoolhouse. Each room has a teacher—one for 2- and 3-year-olds and one for 4- and 5-year-olds. The school has 50 kids enrolled and has the capacity for 60.
The school is in the community of our Well Earth partner for organic ylang ylang in the northern part of the island of Madagascar. This is an area of Madagascar where single parents are common (over half of the children at the school live in single-parent homes), and the disparity between social classes is significant. Although they don't live in extreme poverty, the ylang ylang pickers live in huts in the village and wash their clothes in the river. People have to work very hard to provide for their children.
Ambohimena obviously needed an affordable option for early childhood education — it was simply not practical for the village children to attend preschool in Ambanja. We worked with local educators and social workers to develop the plan for this simple, local facility.
Aura Cacia Commodity Manager Jennifer Ferring attended the dedication ceremony and saw the impact the project had on the community. "We can look at the pictures of the kids who are learning there every day and think, 'Look at what can happen.' We built a preschool for these kids. At that age it’s all about learning to learn—learning to love to learn. It can change their lives.”