President Stanley in Africa
President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. traveled to Madagascar and Kenya this summer to experience Stony Brook University’s commitment to improving lives around the world. During his two-week adventure, he visited three sites that feature some of Stony Brook’s most far-reaching research and development efforts.
Day Four – Inauguration of NamanaBe "Friendship" Hall
Today the Chef de Region, Secretary General of the Minister of the Environment, and the Mayor of Ranomafana, were assisted by Dr. Pat Wright and me to inaugurate NamanaBe Hall, the new research, arts and community outreach building adjacent to Ranomafana National Park.
NamanaBe Hall is a state-of-the-art 15,000-square-foot building. Overlooking the waterfalls, river and the rain forest, NamanaBe is four stories high with gardens and solar panels on the roof. It houses a conference room for 80 people; a computer training lab and library; an audiovisual office; dormitories; and a modern, sophisticated scientific laboratory. The laboratory will soon be outfitted to study biodiversity (genetics, hormones and parasites) and infectious diseases. The whole campus will have high-speed Internet. I can’t help but notice and appreciate that only local materials are used in the building, including the black and white photographs adorning the lobby walls, which are a gift from Fianarantsoa photographer Pierre Men.
NamanaBe Hall is part of Centre ValBio, which is a hub for not only biodiversity research within Ranomafana National Park, but also for the arts in the environment and community outreach in conservation education, health/hygiene and economic development. This integrated approach to preserving rain forest has been key to CVB’s and Dr. Wright’s success for 26 years. This past year Centre ValBio has partnered with the U.S. Embassy and the commune to encourage local musicians and artists for the Artists for the Environmental initiative.
During the inauguration ceremony, Dr. Wright, founder of Centre ValBio, was awarded a Commandeur National Medal of Honor for her 26 years of conservation work for Malagasy biodiversity. Dr. Wright was awarded the prestigious Chevalier d’Ordre National (National Medal of Honor) in 1995 for exceptional deeds in her field and the Medaille Officier de Madagascar in 2003 for her additional accomplishments. The third medal, the Commandeur, only can be awarded five years after the Officier to a person who has done honorable and exceptional work throughout his or her career. Dr. Wright is one of the few foreigners to receive all three!
As part of the celebration, Tarika Be, a Grammy award-winning Malagasy band, will provide music for the evening’s entertainment. In addition to music, local weavers, local sculpture carvers, painters, and other handicrafts will be on display. CVB has shepherded these local artisans to develop innovative products with their own designs. Following tradition, the group will celebrate this grand opening until at least midnight.