By Janee Law
A local nonprofit, and violinist group are partnering this coming Mother’s Day weekend to raise money that will be used to help children in Madagascar further their education, and sell goods made by Malagasy women.
Diane Powers, of Greenlawn, is the president and founder of Madaworks, the nonprofit through which she frequently ventures to Madagascar for her causes. For the May 13 concert, she’s recruited MetroGnomes, the Greenlawn-based violinist group with musicians ranging from ages 5-16, to perform music from the likes of Johann Sebastian Bach to Antonín Dvořák.
Powers said the idea behind the benefit came from MetroGnomes Studio Director Thalia Greenhalgh, who has had her musicians practicing for six months in anticipation of the event.
They’re “very excited about it,” Powers said.
The free concert (a free-will donation is suggested) will be held 4-5 p.m. at Centerport United Methodist Church (97 Little Neck Road). From 3-4 p.m., Powers will open an eco-shop, where she’ll sell scarves and baskets handmade by Malagasy artisans. Proceeds from the sales will go back to the women and a scholarship program for middle schoolers that Powers offers through Madaworks.
She added that the “amazing creations” that the women design can make for great Mother’s Day gifts.
“We’re helping to promote their productivity and independence, as a way to step out of poverty,” Powers, 58, said.
During her recent visit to Madagascar from April 16-May 1, Powers collected the scarves and basketry and also handed out applications for the 2017 scholarship program when visiting five local middle schools.
With biodiversity diminishing, poverty has increased in the country, Powers said. Most Malagasy natives earn $1.25 per day, and the cost to send a child to high school is $600 per year, she added.
Since Powers founded Madaworks in December 2015, she has raised over $6,000 for the scholarship program, which accepted 85 applications last year and ultimately sent two Malagasy girls to high school. This year she handed out 125 applications and will again be awarding scholarships to two Malagasy girls.
“These are very rural, remote areas and to see that much of an interest is really encouraging,” Powers said, adding that she hopes to up the number of scholarship winners in the future if she gets enough funding.
“The more awareness I can raise and the more publicity we can get will help people realize that for such a small amount of money they can really change the future for these girls.”