Life in the Peace Corps will not be easy. There will be no salary and allowances will be at a level sufficient only to maintain health and meet...”
Together we continue to get rid of malaria.
Today in Kenya, 72 children will die of a Malaria infection.
In America we don’t learn much about Malaria because it was eradicated in the 1950s. The disease is caused by a parasite, Plasmodium Falciparum, and it is passed to humans through a mosquito. At my clinic almost half of the patients who are under the age of five come to be treated for malaria infections. I have seen children who are lying listless on a hospital bed that don’t even flinch when an IV line is inserted and can hardly open their eyes. When I heard of World Malaria Day on April 25th, I knew it was something I wanted to celebrate and bring awareness to the people of my village.
I started with my high school health club. I asked them what they wanted to do and we started to organize an original song about malaria, a dance, and a drama. I then spoke with the sisters to get their support and to help mobilize the community. We spent weeks going around to different community groups and leader to tell them about the even we were planning. Next I needed funding for some chairs, a tent, and to set up a PA system the day of the event. I got help from the district officials to fund my event and instead of hosting it at the district headquarters I was able to convince them to make my tiny village the official host of the World Malaria Day event for the entire district!
Over 500 people from my community and from the district offices came on the day of the event. We set up our tents and chairs in the soccer field across from the clinic and my health club provided dancing and entertainment throughout the day. I had my health club students assist me with translating a few phrases into the local dialect to put on posters for the event. Unfortunately as I was transferring those phrases onto the posterboard, I had difficulty deciphering which letters were which and a community member had to tell me that instead of writing “to prevent malaria in Pregnancy” on one of the posters I had written “to prevent malaria in a sexually transmitted disease.”
We offered free testing and treatment for Malaria and people were lined up outside the clinic doors for hours to be seen. We gave out over 80 mosquito nets to pregnant mothers and children as well as encouraged people to allow their homes to be sprayed in the next following days to kill mosquitos. It was a great opportunity to bring awareness to this disease and to work together as a community.
At the end of the day one of my health club members turned to me and asked “Is there a World AIDs Day?” Yes Bilha, there is…
- PCV Christina Gusa