When I first arrived in Madagascar I would look around me and I wonder if I could be in a place more different from home. But over the last three months the more I look around the more I feel at home. Not only because my community has become a second family to me, but because some things are so similar to my life growing up.
Walking around my community I’m surrounded by rollings hills and I’m instantly transported to the Flint Hills back home. I can walk through the short grass that’s been grazed by roaming cattle or find myself in grass tall enough to completely cover me. I know they aren’t the same grasses and when I look for shade I find mangoes not cottonwoods, but the endless plains are still there. The vast sky still stretches above me and I can see for miles. Now that the rainy season is coming nights are spent burning the prairies to encourage new growth and it’s just a beautiful as when the Flint Hills are burned in the spring.
The people remind me of my family in the way that rise early and work tirelessly during planting and harvest. They wake up early because whether you are cutting wheat in Kansas or harvesting rice in Befotaka the plants aren’t going to wait for you just because you’re tired and those rain clouds are coming whether you like it or not. The strength and resiliency found in farmers around the world is alive and well in both my village and back home.
Everyone in Befotaka greets each other on the way into town just like my uncles give a little wave to all the passing cars when they drive into town. Even people who have never met will start to talk and within 5 minutes figure how they related and all the people they know in common, just like my dad could do with anyone from Southeast Kansas. People drop by to chat and just like I can’t go to the supermarket with my mor mor without giving an update of my life to at least 5 people I spend at least half of my time in the market here updating the tomato ladies on what I’ve done since yesterday. There many not be an ice cream truck where I live now, but there is a guy on a bike that play “oh my darling clementine” that sells popsicles so you can cool down on a hot day (so everyday).
I love realizing these similarities and how even thousands of miles away you can always find a piece of home.