By Janee Law
Through her nonprofit Madaworks, Huntington native Diane Powers has raised $3,000 in funds that will be put towards helping needy children in Madagascar continue their education.
“It’s very difficult for rural people to get to the schools,” Powers, 57, of Greenlawn, said. “They have to go great distances because the high schools are so spread out, and it costs money.”
Powers said biodiversity is diminishing in the country, causing poverty to increase. Most Malagasy natives earn $1.25 per day, and that it costs $600 per year for a child to attend high school there, she said.
Powers founded Madaworks last December after working over the summer as an eco-tourism consultant for Pat Wright, a professor at Stony Brook University. Powers was inspired by Wright’s tendency to support Malagasy women by purchasing goods from them, and also by paying for the education of some children.
“I thought, ‘Pat, why don’t we make this into an organization where we can have a bigger reach and get some funding to really set up a platform where we can make this a program?’” Powers said.
Since its founding, Madaworks has raised $3,000 through its website and social media platforms. Powers said this is enough money to offer scholarships to five young girls in Madagascar.
“We’re going to be distributing applications for the scholarships in April and deciding on the recipients in June,” Powers said.
The nonprofit, which has office space at 6 Westbrook Court in Greenlawn, also buys handmade scarves and basketry from Malagasy artisans, and then gifts those goods to those who donate to Madaworks’ cause.
“We’re supporting the women economically, and then 90 percent of our funds go back into the scholarships to provide girls’ continued education,” Powers said. The remaining 10 percent of Madaworks’ funds go towards operating expenses, she said.
The next step for Madaworks, Powers said, is to launch a crowdfunding initiative in May so to pay for the education of even more children.
But, in order to do that, she said she must go back to Madagascar and create a film for the crowdfunding initiative.
“I’m trying to get as much support as possible to really create a platform where this can become a self-sustaining operation,” she said.
For more information, and to donate, visit Madaworks.org.