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Weekly Awesome: Senegal, part I

As the rainy season approached the normally dry Linguere area of central Senegal, the 13 volunteers of the region decided to put together an anti-malaria traveling show. Wanting to put their enthusiasm to work in crafting a memorable anti-malaria message, the volunteers decided that a series of skits would be the best way to introduce basic information about the disease and its spread.

Environmental Education volunteer Ann-Marie Albright described the beginning of the event in each village. “Our program opened with a number of skits debunking the myths of how one can get malaria, including mangoes, walking in the sun, spirits, drinking lots of milk, and dancing too much. We then used cardboard cutout people to explain how malaria spreads from one person to the next… (and) a silent, narrated theater to reiterate how malaria is spread using a number of specific situations.”

The volunteers then went on to talk with villagers about various malaria interventions, including vector control techniques, bed net usage and neem lotion, a natural mosquito repellent that can be made with locally available ingredients and then sold or distributed. In each village, the volunteers demonstrated how to make neem lotion and distributed small bags of it to the audience.

The tour passed across 80 miles and through 11 villages in four days, bringing equal parts amusement and information. Overall, more than 1,000 men, women and children attended the events. The total population of the 11 villages is over 27,000, and since many community health workers and other important figures attended each demonstration, the volunteers are hopeful that their anti-malaria message will spread.