What Pegman Saw: The Teacher

Chute Sacree Trail | Souvaroff Eric, Google Maps

Dadabe was the wisest man in all of Madagascar. He could scent the wind and know the weather ten days out. He once brewed a tea from a pink-petaled plant that cured Samoely of fever.

He was a farmer all his life, baring the rich soil nourished by rainforest to grow his crops. He stood proud at the riverbank waving as I left for camp.

The camp was Madagasikara Voakajy. I alone was picked from my village to go. At the camp, I met other kids from up and down the highlands.

“Today, we will talk about sustainability,” they said.

We all loved our forest—it was not a thing they needed to teach. What we didn’t know was that the practices taught by our elders were destroying it. With our new wisdom, we could cultivate the land for generations to come.

When I saw Dadabe, I would teach him.

150 words

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt, click here.

For generations, Malagasy farmers have relied on a system of slash and burn, using the ash to fertilize their crops. The practice gnaws away at hundreds of acres of precious rain forest every year. Madagascar’s deforestation rate is the highest in the world.

These same people rely on the forest for fresh water and medicine. Madagasikara Voakajy is an environmental organization training Malagasy youth in sustainable farming practices. The kids learn skills like making compost and crop rotation. These techniques enable them to farm the same plot year after year instead of razing more forest. Adults, excited by the high yields, often approach the kids for guidance.

To learn more about Madagasikara Voakajy, see these resources:


  1. My first reaction: Quiet a challenge set. Then I read your take on it. So there is possibility here.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. 🙂 So is the challenge Madagascar? Or saving the rainforest? Or all of the above? Happy writing, I look forward to your take on the prompt!


      1. Initially, Madagascar. But can it be taken without the question of deforestation?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh boy, Madagascar is facing so many challenges. There’s the measles outbreak, the pneumonic plague, and of course the poverty. But there is great beauty there too. And a cure for lymphoma. And lemurs. Lots of lemurs. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Which opens wide the options. But, alas, mine is fixed due to a quote I remember from years ago in relation to Stonehenge. Which might seem like a huge tangent. though in fact it’s entirely relevant.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Oooh I can’t wait!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. As usual, posting on Monday. In fact, I’ve just uploaded and scheduled it.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. lillmcgill


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Mom, glad you liked it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely hopeful story. Her voice is spot-on. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. baring the rich soil nourished by rainforest to grow his crops ~ this alone says so much! Then the line about everyone already loving their forest. Wonderfully informative piece. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Lish! There was so much I wanted to get in. I was inspired to learn of this organization.


  5. So pleased to hear about the hope and positive action in your story, the young ones leading the elders. Like the gentle tone of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It is hard for the student to become the teacher, for both sides, but this story evokes such hope for the future! Love the rich detail of the cultural practices.


  7. This was wonderful, Karen. The old ways destroy what they need to survive. A message of hope, here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading, Dale. I glad you found it hopeful! I’m feeling like we can all use a bit more hope these days.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Excellent…I wonder if the person knows how hard that may be?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is a good point! The teacher does not always take instruction as well as they can give it. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my story. It means a lot!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. peterkirsch

    Wonderful story, wonderful cause. I only hope it can make a fast, effective impact…and that it isn’t too late.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Your story about the cyclic nature of teaching (even built cyclicly, with the end taking us back to the beginning) taught me a lot.

    Fortunately, at least in Madagascar, those with a stake in the future are taking a hand in preserving the present.

    I often lament, how the lessons of pollution and unchecked development of the 60s and 70s in America has been forgotten, ignored, or set aside as irrelevant, by the very generation, who most benefited from those problems being addressed, i.e., the one now holding the reins of power. Short memories!


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