Life in Madagascar Examined Through Art


Surrounded by fields of rice, 14-year-old Stephanie has a perspective on life that is different from many adolescents around the world. In her small town in Eastern Madagascar, families depend on local agriculture for sustenance. Central to their diet and livelihoods is rice, but its growing season is short which means the lean season, the season of food scarcity, is quite long.  

Recently, CARE asked Stephanie and her peers to draw a picture so that we could understand life in Madagascar through the eyes of a girl.  The village school rarely has art supplies available, making this a new experience!  Bright colors, clean canvases of paper… the options were limitless.  Most of the pictures created reflected the artists’ daily lives.  Stephanie’s picture actually reflected the risk management system in her village where different colored flags – red, yellow, and green – are flown indicating the severity of the seasonal cyclone alerts.  Her town is located on the Indian Ocean and is regularly in the path of severe cyclones. Every time there is a cyclone, there is a risk to personal safety, and to their livelihoods and rice harvest. 

To help families like Stephanie’s be better prepared to respond to natural disasters like cyclones, CARE began working with the community to rehabilitate rice fields, implementing a project focused on food security, and developing a risk management system. Her mother and other adults approve of these programs too: “There is a big difference between my childhood and my daughter’s. We didn’t have such an organized community when I was a child.”

Stephanie and her friends agreed that the Art Project was a valuable and unforgettable experience that helped them reflect on the changes in their communities. More importantly though, the Art Project allowed us to see, from these girls’ perspectives, how CARE is working with families, empowering villages, and engaging girls like Stephanie to chart out their futures.  To see Stephanie’s story, visit

Written by Amanda Moll and Hongying Li, CARE USA Education Team