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Footbridge in Madagascar gives kids safe passage to new schoolhouse

December 3, 2013

Going to school wasn’t always so easy for the kids of Antsahaberaoka, a village in northern Madagascar. During the rainy seasons, many children simply couldn’t reach the school because the river running through the community rose too high to safely cross. More problems awaited them at the schoolhouse itself, which was made from dilapidated wood and had no roof: its dirt floors meant that children without shoes often had parasites burrow into their feet.

This month, construction ended in Antsahaberaoka to address both of those problems. A 40-meter footbridge now spans the river, serving not just the kids, but the entire community. And a new schoolhouse built from durable materials is now complete, offering not only a floor and a roof, but new bathrooms, tables, desks, and chairs. What’s more, the regional school district has agreed to send a new teacher starting in late November.

In exchange, the community of Antsahaberaoka agreed to stop all habitat disturbance for 30 years within a nearby 4,800-acre area of Marojejy National Park, home to one of the largest concentrations of the critically endangered silky sifaka lemur.