Wales and Madagascar share a spiritual heritage, and face the same pandemic, but the differences between them are enormous, writes Miara Rabearisoa
I am Malagasy, living in Wales for nearly a decade now and I can say that I feel at home here. Wales is common ground for my wife Rebecca and me, because of our different origins: Mizoram in India, and Madagascar. Our two daughters, Hannah and Seren, are more Welsh than the two of us.
I often compare life in Wales and in Madagascar. Both are beautiful, but the cold and wet weather here is still a challenge for me, and the number of cups of tea that people drink every day still amazes me. I am often gobsmacked by the differences, even tiny things like the price of tinned tomatoes. In Madagascar, tinned tomatoes are an expensive luxury. I was shocked when I first arrived in Wales to know that tinned tomatoes are cheaper than fresh. In Madagascar, you can get a basket full of fresh tomatoes for the price of one tin of tomatoes.
In Madagascar, I am used to seeing churches with people packed like sardines. When I attended my first service in Wales, I wondered why people were so late for church. When the service started, I realised few people go to church here. I am sure the brave Welsh missionaries who went to Madagascar and Mizoram in the 19th century would have mixed feelings about this.
The UK is among the top ten richest countries in the world. Madagascar is among the poorest. This coronavirus pandemic has highlighted these differences even more …
Miara Rabearisoa is Mid-Wales Regional Officer for the United Reformed Church
This is an extract from an article published in the February 2021 edition of Reform