When we say Madagascar what springs to mind? Lemurs, baobab trees, vanilla – an exotic holiday destination? Today we’d like to share another Madagascar with you. In reality, this apparently idyllic island can be an incredibly difficult place to live; especially for young people, trying to make their way in life.

Official statistics confirm what Malagasy know all too well. 90% live on less than £2 a day. 77% live in sprawling urban slums, with poor hygiene and sanitation. A plague outbreak killed 200 people just last year. The slums bear the brunt of brutal cyclones every monsoon season. A crippled economy means young people face a daily struggle to survive. And on top of all of this, political unrest is rife. Currently there are protests against corruption in the capital – with tension on all sides from the politicians, to the people, to the police.

And yet, young people there fill us with hope. They hold dreams so many have lost. Their determination never accepts defeat, despite all the challenges Madagascar puts in their way.

Lanto dropped out of school at 14. He spent his teens between unemployment and insecure work. But his community brought him to YMCA Madagscar. Y Care International supporters like you helped us give him the skills, capital, support and tools to set up a business for himself as a poultry farmer.

He knew how to raise ducks and poultry, but needed help to write a business plan, find a market for his livestock, and believe in himself. Now 24, Lanto says; “I was a shy guy, but just 5 days of YMCA training gave me the confidence to become a leader.

It’s resilience that young people in Madagascar need most of all. Disaster can strike at any time. Lanto lost most of his ducks to flooding after a recent cyclone, but after advice on how to keep his remaining ducks healthy from YMCA, he won’t give up, he will carry on.

Your support will give young people in Madagascar and around the world something much more valuable than money alone. Hope. Skills. Support. The opportunity their talent so richly deserves. Please make a gift that will give another young person the same chances. With you, Y Care International and YMCA supporting them, young people are more than capable of helping themselves. Help us to create more opportunities for young people like Lanto, Anja and Sabine today.