Way back in 2016 when I was still new to Madagascar, Anne and I saw an online notice that a crowdfunding initiative on the eastern coast of the country was looking for a photographer and a videographer to produce a crowdfunding video and associated imagery to support a project (at the time still unnamed) to teach young Malagasy people English and coding skills. If successful, this project would potentially have a huge positive impact on the lives of hundreds of young, talented Malagasy people.
A few years have gone by and thanks to a lot of hard work by Onja founder Sam Lucas and innumerable volunteers who have supported his dream, and tens of thousands of dollars in pledges and donations, the first wave of 30 students in this innovative program have started in their quest to become Africa’s next top coders!
Supporting this project was an amazing adventure for us. I blogged about this amazing experience here, here and here, if you’re interested. But if you recall the video I created in collaboration with Sam (who taught this retired U.S. Army PSYOP officer a thing or two about appealing to millenials), we centered the appeal around a charismatic young fellow named Jerome.
Jerome was the highest scorer in Sam’s aptitude test, administered in a number of remote villages, but we caught up with him after several days’ travel just as he was heading out to a religious retreat with all of his friends. He selflessly decided to stay back from his retreat and help us with our crowdfunding video, and since then I’ve often wondered if things ended up working out for Jerome and his mom, who was singlehandedly trying to raise her kids the best she could.
Well it turns out that Jerome is a part of this first cohort – he’s on the far right, second row from the back in the grey shirt. We plan to make a trip to the coast when we can to see how things are going for the group, who now face the challenge of achieving English fluency in the next 12 months. We’re told Jerome has done quite well so far, and we hope that along with his 29 classmates, he’ll be able to make a difference in the well-being of his family and his community.
If you think this is a great project (we do!) please consider supporting it financially. They can’t do this without your help.