Painting cacti (choose the photo at top to enlarge and scroll through)

Cacti paintings

By Swati Pandey ’23

Mada_Raketa was a creative campaign against starvation and the world’s first famine caused solely by global warming in southern Madagascar. The event was supported by the International Students Association.

Borrowing the ideas of American journalist Sydney J. Harris—“History repeats itself, but in such cunning disguise that we never detect the resemblance until the damage is done” —we initiated our fundraising efforts with a dual intention.

First, to raise funds that can be provided to the World Food Program, the organization involved in food distribution across southern Madagascar.

And second, to organize our fundraising events in order to shed light on the bigger picture and generate awareness required for sustainable change.

The present plight of the inhabitants of southern Madagascar isn’t a new story for these native folks who have, as history bears witness, been continually victimized by forces beyond their control. Ecological imbalances caused by French colonialism in 1924 in the introduction of invasive species for political reasons—the fate of the Malagasy people weaved into the story of the cactus prickly pear opuntia—had led to Madagascar’s first big starvation in the south (1930-31), which imperiled 30,000 people and 300,000 cattle.

While the south continues to recover from the ecosystem unbalance, it has again been victimized by a force beyond its control—climate change.

The country, especially the south, is living through the worst drought it has seen in the past 40 years. 1.14 million people are living through food insecurity, and this demographic includes mostly children. The people have been forced into starvation, eating only their cacti, raketa.

We are grateful to the participants in our fundraising event on the Quad who created paintings of raketa for sale. We are hopeful that the art will help us attain both of our goals. These paintings are uploaded on our Instagram page for interested donors. All proceeds will be used in assisting WFP. Interested donors may also use our Venmo or GoFundMe to make donations without purchasing any painting.

Organizers were Mirana Randriamanantsoa ’21, Swati Pandey ’23, and Celeste Fieberg ’22, president of International Students Association.

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