Mbolatiana (Mbola) Ralidera visited Orlando last fall to represent Madagascar for the International Biblical Entrepreneurship competition. Rhissa Parker from First Pres’ SHINE Children’s Ministry hosted her for dinner. Having recently begun raising ducks with her children, Rhissa asked Mbola about the nuances of raising birds, and God used that conversation to bring about something amazing.
For several years, our children’s ministry has supported the Topaza Orphanage, part of our church’s initiative in Madagascar. Topaza is home to approximately 50 children, ages 2 months to 19 years, and is part of the vast ministry of The Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar (FJKM), our partner denomination.
Over the years, Rhissa and Topaza’s Director, Tantely, have worked closely to care for the children in the orphanage. The children of SHINE have prayed for the Topaza children by name and photo, raised money, and taken collections for vitamins and other items. The SHINE staff also prays for the Topaza children and staff. The Quail Nest project the next evolution of this very special relationship. But to understand the significance of this new project, you have to go back to the beginning of our church’s efforts in Madagascar.
Before First Pres ever set foot in Madagascar, our FaithServes mission team was moving towards new models of ministry in mission. How could we create sustainable partnerships, not based solely on charity, but on empowering local people in the places where God led us?
Years ago, our church began focusing on Biblical Entrepreneurship, a curriculum we were using with local business leaders in Orlando, and started teaching it to business leaders in Madagascar. From there, our Malagasy partners started teaching the curriculum themselves and building sustainable business models for their own community. Mbola Ralidera was one of those business leaders, and her business plan centered around farming quail.
Mbola’s dream is to use her quail farming business to fight against malnutrition and poverty. She thought it might be possible to partner with an orphanage to teach children how to farm quail, a natural fit that would provide many benefits for the children. First, the nutritional value of quail eggs can be three to four times greater than chicken eggs. Second, the children would be learning valuable new skills through farming the eggs themselves.
But, Mbola did not have any connections to an orphanage in Madagascar. And then, from 9,000 miles away, over dinner, Rhissa became the connection Mbola needed. She introduced Mbola to Tantely, and the Quail NEST partnership was born.
This is a remarkable story not only because of the ways God made this connection, but also because this kind of mission – community development born out of deep, long-term relationships and investment – has come full circle in both Madagascar, and in the children of our church family.
NEST stands for Nutritional Eggs Support Topaza. To date, the Topaza Orphanage is farming 48 quail. Ten children from the orphanage have been selected as the quail farmers, and all the children from the orphanage are learning to enjoy the nutritious eggs that this fruitful project is yielding. Mbola’s company provides training for the farmers and facilitates all the necessary technical requirements.
Stateside, the children of First Pres are learning about the quail as well, with our SHINE Children’s Ministry creating a six-week video series to educate 1st through 5th graders about farming quail.
In partnership with Topaza, the expenses needed to run the quail farm are fully supported by children at First Pres. Beyond learning about quail farming, the children of SHINE are experiencing what it means to have a servant’s heart. During the season of Lent this year, all of the money tithed by children in SHINE went to the project, and the tithing was plentiful. As Rhissa said, “God continually shows us ways that He uses the servanthood of the children’s hearts.”
The children of SHINE have been so generous in their giving and support, the children of Topaza may have an opportunity in the near future to share their knowledge and skills to help other orphanages in Madagascar begin their very own quail farms. What a beautiful illustration of the gospel as our children give to the children in Topaza who will, in turn, share what they’ve been given with others in need. ●
To find out more about SHINE's partnership with Topaza , please contact Rhissa Parker at firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about First Pres’ Madagascar Initiative, please contact Carol Hafer at email@example.com.