YEAR 1: MOUSE LEMURS, OR TSIDY
Age: 10-12 years
These little rascals come to us from Manaode, a Malagasy NGO we’ve partnered with since last year. Manaode provides a home for the street children of Antananarivo and also offers vocational training, schooling and medical care. We’ve heard from our Malagasy staff that these little ones are crushing it already!
YEAR 2: RING-TAILED LEMURS, OR MAKI
Age: 11-13 years
We first met our second year class last year, and they’ve been kicking serious butt ever since. In Summer 2014 they and our 14 original kids created a show together and performed it all around Tana. This summer, they were awesome role models and ambassadors as we trained a group of adult artists from all over the country to use our work to spread awareness about the polio crisis. Right now, they are working on some character scenes to show in Summer 2016. These little balls of fire mostly come to us from Manaode, and one comes from another NGO called Hardi.
YEAR 3: DANCING LEMURS, OR SIFAKAS
Age: 12-14 years
They were the originals. The very first. They’re the veterans. The old fogies. They’ve been with us for nearly four years, first working with Malagasy facilitator Dina in 2012. We met them on our first trip to Madagascar in May 2013. For one month we lived with these 14 kids in a house, we rehearsed a show and we performed it on tour around the country and in the capital. In Summer 2014, we helped them and their new friends from Manaode rehearse and perform another show in the capital. This summer, the third years jumped right in to help us and UNICEF with our polio project. They created another full-length show this fall and will create one final show in the spring, which we will help them take on tour. They will be the Zara Aina Youth Company’s first graduating class. We’ve watched these guys grow. Some started at 9 or 10 years old and some are now 14 and 15. They came to us from the neighborhoods of Tsaramasay and Ankorondrano in the capital and from Akany Fitahiana school. We’re just bursting with pride for our third years. When they first started with us, none of them passed their national exams. This year, every single kid passed.