Kathy is a farmers’ daughter from Kelilanina, a beautiful village close to Ranomafana, one of Madagascar’s most famous nature reserves. Apart from farming, her parents run a little shop, where they sell bread, cakes and coffee. It makes their house one of the central meeting points in the village, where people gather and exchange news. Kathy loves that. She likes to sit there and listen.
Kathy herself is very quiet and she speaks with a soft voice. But once she starts talking, she can hardly stop. She knows a lot about her family-history and likes to talk about it. Her great grandfather from her mother’s side was a Frenchman who was a soldier during the French colonization. He met Kathy’s great grandmother after he and his fellow soldiers had entered her village. Almost all the other villagers had fled to the hills and the forest, but she had stayed to look after the house of the masters she served. The Frenchman was impressed by the young woman and fell in love with her. They married and stayed together until after many years he had to go to fight in Algeria. He wrote many letters, but Kathy’s great grandmother wasn’t able to read them. Unfortunately all the letters got lost and no one knows where he lived and what happened to him.
Kathy’s family from her father’s side has an interesting history as well. Her father originally wasn’t from Kelilanina. He moved there as a small boy to live with his step-grandfather. This man had several sons and daughters of his own, but when they grew up they didn’t care much for their father. So when he got old and sick, Kathy’s father was the only one who took care of him. After his death, Kathy’s father buried him on his own land with the approval of the children of his step-grandfather. He inherited the land. Since then his family lives there.
When Kathy was still a girl, her dream about the future was to become a receptionist at one of the hotels near the nature reserve. It was a hotel owned by one of the customers of her father’s shop. The matron really liked Kathy and encouraged her to study English to be able to communicate with the tourists that visit Ranomafana. So after Kathy finished high school, she grabbed every opportunity to earn money, even the smallest sums, and saved it until it would be enough to enrol in an English language course in Fianarantsoa. By the time she was selected by Onja, she had managed to save only a little amount, nowhere near enough to pay for the course. So Kathy was very happy with the opportunity to study at Onja. She gave the money she had saved to her parents, who made good use of it, buying seeds to grow new crops.