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To raise money for the school we are building in Madagascar and continue with the development, Goldfish are pledging $2.00 from every ZaZa Bag (Madagascar Bag) sale to go back into funding this project.

WHEN ELISA DORO travelled to Madagascar in 2011 for a friend’s 50th birthday, the last thing she expected to be doing was negotiating a business opportunity with remote villagers and raising funds to build a school.

But 12 months later, that’s exactly what’s happened.

Elisa found herself totally captivated by the beautiful and nurturing Madagascan people, and is now sharing something of her experience through a unique range of beautiful, hand-crafted bags supplied directly by the villagers of tiny Ambasary, just south of the Madagascan capital, Antananarivo.

Not only is the relationship creating a business opportunity for the skilled locals, but for every bag sold in Australia two dollars goes back into a project to build a pre-school in a remote part of Madagascar.

Elisa and her partner, Roel, initially spent seven weeks in Madagascar and fell in love with the place and its people. On a whim, they travelled to Ambasary, where Elisa found herself entranced by the artistry of the local basket weavers.

“I was in heaven,’” she says.

“We started talking to them, there and then using a mixture of French, English and Malagasy, about supplying bags for us to take back to Australia.”

Elisa says the beautiful people of Ambasary began working on samples straight away using materials grown locally, and two and a half weeks later an Ambasary woman, Josephina, walked to the capital and delivered the first five.

Elisa immediately placed an order.

Back in Australia, the ordering process is a little more protracted.

“We make a call to a friend in Madagascar who relays a message, through a series of people, to a friend of the basket maker who has a mobile phone, and can get access to Facebook messages at a certain time, on a certain day, by standing in the doorway of a local hut. It’s not for the faint hearted” she says.

Despite the difficulties of doing business, the results are worth it. Each basket is a unique design and hand-made by a master craftsperson.

The first shipment of baskets arrived in April this year and have been wowing customers at Elisa’s shop, Goldfish Toyshop, in Berry, NSW.

Elisa and Roel, who have since made two return visits to Madagascar, decided early on they wanted to give something back to the Madagascans, who are amongst the poorest people in Africa.

“In the village of Ampotsehy there are nearly 100 pre-school age children who have no safe way of reaching the local schools during the rainy season,” Elisa says.

“Muddy roads become dangerous places, with crocodile attacks a sad reality.

“With the promise of funding from the sale of the Madagascar Bags and other fundraising initiatives, the village people have established a site and started work on their own school.

“We want to raise $10,000 by May of next year to make the school a reality before the next wet season sets in.”

Two dollars from the sale of every Madagascan Bag is going to the project, but Elisa is also appealing to Australians to dig deep and make a personal donation.

To purchase one of the beautiful, handcrafted bags in person or to make a donation, visit Goldfish Toyshop 2/62 Albert St Berry, NSW or buy online at

For more information contact Elisa Doro via
or phone 02 4464 3332.

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