The biggest problem right now is Malaria. It unfortunately is most common in children. The first week we started working we had 9 cases in 2 days. Fortunately it is free for a rapid test and the treatment for simple cases so we have not seen any children die. However in other villages this is not the case and despite the governments effort to eradicate this disease it is still a huge problem. I have become quite aggressive when it comes to talking to parents about protecting their children. I do not think any excuse is valid when it comes to justifying why their children are not sleeping under nets. I have become the Malaria Prevention Nazi and though my words may seem harsh it does seem to have an affect.
For example my 2 year old host niece falls asleep before everyone else. Instead of taking her inside and putting her under a net, she sleeps outside exposed to the biting mosquito (worst insect ever). I tried talking to them and encouraging them to put up a mosquito net, but it did not work. Finally I started doing it myself. Every night for about a week I would take her and put her under the net. Then I left for a couple of days and when I returned, I was surprised to see that they were carrying on with the ritual. I was so excited and it gave me hope to continue the fight.
There are many challenges, but one of the most frustrating is the lack of desire to prevent diseases. I think it is the combination of ignorance and accepting it is a part of life. These two issues are extremely hard to face and we as volunteers spend enormous amounts of time talking about malaria prevention and other disease.
The volunteers in my area recently took part in a 4-day Malaria tour née where we set up a fair style convention in collaboration with a local theater group. It was a great success and we had a lot of fun making Neem cream (natural anti mosquito cream), coloring mosquito nets, and talking to communities about the importance of prevention. The pictures below are from this event.
This last month in my village, I also had the same theater group come and perform on a weekly basis. They did different skits of different health issues and we then talked about ways to prevent illnesses such as diarrhea, infections, malaria, and AIDS. It was fantastic and we had a lot of fun. So despite the frustrations and challenges, there are good things that are happening and I am content being in this place. Thank you for reading and stay tuned, the next few months will be full of fun events and I will soon have much more to share.
|STOP MALARIA NOW! pic by Cara Steger|
|Dance party under the mosquito net after the sketch|
Photo take by Cara Steger
|Exile Malaria!!! Picture by Cara Steger|