Centre Fihavanana

1032 Reviews

Star Travel Rating


Review type

Things to do


Date of travel

October, 2018

Product name

Product country

Product city

Travelled with


Reasons for trip

For the last ten years, my annual list of things to do has started: 1. Finish embroidery, 2. Lose weight. Well, this year, my embroidered map of Yorkshire was completed and I wanted to find a good home for all my remaining embroidery silks, and an inherited box of associated bits and pieces, before I was tempted into taking up my needle again.

Prior to our trip to Madagascar, I was checking out Rainbow Tours website on Responsible Travel, and discovered the home I’d been looking for. A visit to Centre Fihavanana was arranged whilst passing through the capital Antananarivo. The centre, run by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, helps with the education of children and young girls most in need.

On arrival we were led up steps, passing an empty school room, and were met by Sister Annamma. As she didn’t speak English, and our French is poor, our guide translated.

We heard that the school is open to children aged from 5-14 and, as well as learning to read and write, they’re taught cleanliness and bodily hygiene with the aim of them returning home to pass the messages on to their families. This along with two meals a day, aims to improve their health and cut down on medicines required. At the end of the year they prepare the children to enter public or private schools so they can continue their studies.

They also admit 50 girls between the ages of 14-16 for two years of education and vocational skills like dress making, sewing, embroidery, basket making, pastry making, cooking, hair dressing and computer science. This is an attempt to avoid them going into prostitution or becoming mothers at an early age.

As I unpacked the bag of threads, books, cards and material, the Sister seemed very impressed and as we were surrounded by cross stitch cards for sale and a huge cross stitch sampler hung on the wall, I knew it was going to the right place.

In the next room we were shown table cloths which the older women embroider with local scenes of lemurs and baobab and heard how exports abroad are down, as they cannot compete with cheap machine-made Chinese products.

I left feeling pleased that my gifts would be well used but slightly concerned that “2. Lose weight” will move up to the top of the 2019 list.

Helen Jackson

Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.