Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Malaria Militia

Malaria Militia

It's hard to imagine what something like a mosquito or mosquito net means to somebody when most of us don't ever think twice about them. In Uganda it is one of the top worries for the people here.

According to statistics, malaria now kills more Ugandans than HIV/AIDS. Prior to that, Uganda had been a leading country in the AIDS pandemic. Think about that for a second. Then just google malaria a bit and read about it for 2 minutes.

Here are some things I can share with you, first hand, from my time here:

-During the 2.5 weeks we spent in northern Uganda we probably developed close relationships with about 21 people. During that time 6 of those people became ill with malaria.

-Remember my blog about the sick young boy we found laying on the ground by our car one day? We left the orphanage and took him for medical care. He tested for having cerebral malaria---which is fatal within 24-72 hours, if not treated. Today, he is healthy. For now anyway.

-We worked in 6 IDP camps (internally displaced persons) giving beds: mats, mattresses, blankets, nets and Bibles. We gave beds to 395 children/child-headed families. None of them had nets prior to getting our Sweet Sleep nets.

-As we returned to the camps to do malaria education and to connect our beds to the hope and love of Jesus, I always asked the same question, "How many of you have had malaria?" Every single hand would go up. We always had larger crowds than we'd been able to give beds to, so we're talking about more than 1,000 children, adults, widows who have been infected with malaria.

-In the last several days we've made countless calls to orphanages our partner organizations have connected us with. Here's a sample of a portion of a typical call:

Us: how many children sleep in your orphanage?
Them: 82
Us: how many beds do you have?
Them: 31
Us:how many blankets do you have?
Them: 15
Us: how many nets do you have?
Them: we have zero nets

And on it goes.

Yesterday I blogged about the beds and nets we gave this past summer and the visit we had with the children there. Each of the teens I talked with told me they most liked getting a net. They said they hadn't been sick with malaria since.

Amazing. And to think a treated net is $8.

Malaria makes me angry. It attacks a person's entire body and gives them flu-like symptoms which can include: high fever, fatigue, aching body, dizziness, headaches, vomiting and chills as well as death.

I don't have an answer for ridding Africa of malaria, but I do have a voice. And so do you. I'm not sure how I'm going to combat this problem. Then again, I wasn't sure how I'd ever provide a bed to an orphanage, either. We'll do this together. So, I shall form a malaria militia to educate everyone we can and to raise funds to provide for these nets. If we can't get beds to every child right this minute, we can at least provide them a net so they'll have the opportunity to live long enough to get their bed.

Schools are a powerful vehicle. Before leaving for this trip I spoke to several schools about malaria and nets. The students connected with this task. They've also provided nets for nearly every child we've worked with. Bring me to your school. Bring your ideas. Bring your willingness to join the militia. Or, just bring your checkbook.

Whatever you do, do it soon and help Sweet Sleep save lives. It's evening here in Uganda and in orphanages and huts everywhere lives are being taken by a simple mosquito bite.

Message me and we'll talk.

See you in the next blog,
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

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