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My Malaria Story

October 10th, 2011 | 0 comments

When the Me and My Net team went to Nairobi and Dar es Salaam for Malaria Youth Summits earlier this year we asked all the young people attending to tell us their Malaria Story.

We collected stories from ninety participants, each telling us how malaria has affected them. Some of recount when they had malaria themselves, others talk about when members of their families were suffering, others when they learnt about Malaria at school. The stories highlight the importance of bed nets. Many of those with memories of suffering with malaria were not using them at the time, or had old nets with holes in them.

Below are just two examples…

“I have a cousin, who is very young, her age is 4 years old, she lives with her mother who doesn’t care about the importance of sleeping under a mosquito net. She believes that, there are no mosquitoes to bite them. One day, I don’t remember the exact date, but I think it was in January, the girl woke up in the morning, she felt every part of her body aching, then she felt very wide as if she was in a bridge or near a mountain. Because of her youngness she started crying because of the different which appeared on her body. Then her mother realised that there were something different in her baby’s body – she touched her baby’s body, her temperature was very high, then what she did, she took her to the hospital, but it was too late, the baby’s eyes started to change, they became very yellow, the mother got into a fear, she knew that her baby is dying. She rushed to the hospital and the baby was in a critical condition, then the doctors checked the baby, and they found that she has malaria and her condition was very bad. After the check up, the baby was unconscious for a long time and after she woke up, she was given medicine, then she felt better. The doctors gave some advice to the mother about the use of mosquito nets. Since that day my cousin and the whole family are always sleeping under the net. “

Zainab, age 11

“It’s so cold. No one talks, walk or shouting. The village was so quiet. Everybody at the village took themselves in  heir homes. In that village there was a girl, her name was Wande. Her tribe was a sukuma. She was so beautiful, charming, respectful in fact she was a very good girl. One day when my mother sent me to my uncle, I hear a voice and when I listen it carefully, I hear my friends name, her name is Wande. She was aging, weak in fact she was weak and suffer. No body in the house was there. The house was so silent. The voice which you can hear is only  Wande’s voice. Her mother travelled to Arusha because there was her sister’s wedding. When I enter to their house I saw Wande crying. When I told her to take her to the hospital she refused because in their tribe has the tribalism. When I convince her, she refuse again. When I tried to convince her, the door was knocked. I went then I open the door. When I open I saw her brother Maganga. Manganga was the first born in their family. He went to London for education. When he enter in, he saw his sister Wande crying and he asked her ‘what’s wrong?’ she required ‘ I have a fever’ M: ‘how do you tell?’ W: ‘my head aches, my stomach hurts too.’ M: ‘nothing else?’ W: ‘I have been vomiting since yesterday.’ M: ‘so did you go to the hospital?’ W: ‘I go to the witch doctor and he give me a natural medicine muarobaini. I drunk it but there’s no solution’. M: ‘come and I will take you to the hospital’. W: ‘no, out tribalism doesn’t want us to go to the hospital. Our god will never forgive us.’ W & M; ‘No’ they shouted for one house and then Wande agreed to go to the hospital. The doctor gave then the mseto medicine and Wande starts to use it. For a week, Wande was so strong and she start using the Olyset net. Now she is strong.”

Miriana, age 13

The stories have been entered into the Royal Commonwealth Society’s Jubilee Time Capsule – the world’s biggest online time capsule. The Jubilee Time Capsule is collecting people’s stories and memories since 6th February 1952 (when Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II ascended the throne) to mark HM The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and sixty years as the Head of the Commonwealth. The Me and My Net entries will join 22,000 other entries – one for each day of HM The Queen’s reign - to tell the story of the modern Commonwealth. Find out more and share your own malaria story at www.jubileetimecapsule.org.

Click here to see all the Me and My Net entries in the capsule.

HASENA’S EXPERIENCE OF MALARIA IN ETHIOPIA

October 4th, 2011 | 1 comment

“My twin daughters died when they were only two years old. I didn’t know what was wrong with them, they were both very ill and I was weak with a fever,” says Hasena, a member of the nomadic Afar people of southeast Ethiopia. 

“I carried them for two days to the nearest health centre, walking as fast as I could. It was hot and dry and my babies just kept getting worse. When I was a few hours away from the health centre they both stopped crying. When I arrived, the nurse told me that it was too late to treat their malaria.”

Hasena lives in Kodae village in the remote desert region of Afar, 40 miles from the nearest health centre. There is no electricity, no health centre or school, and the only water available is the nearby Awash River. Sadly, her story is not uncommon.

It is one of many villages in Afar that benefited from the distribution of 90,000 mosquito nets by AMREF.

 AMREF delivered as many as we could by vehicle and then used convoys of donkeys to reach the most remote communities. When the nets arrived in Kodae, trained village health workers delivered the nets to people’s doors, explaining their importance and how they should be used.

Hasena was one of the many women who received two mosquito nets. She explains: “Now that I have the nets I am going to use one inside the house for my husband, myself and the two youngest children and the rest will sleep under the other net outside. If I stick with this routine I am confident that none of my children will get malaria again.”

AMREF also trained 300 village health workers to diagnose and treat malaria and pass this knowledge on to community members.

“Now, we are far more hopeful about the future,” says Hasena. “Armed with our mosquito nets and our knowledge, we hope that we can stop our children dying from this horrible disease.”

To find out more about AMREF and the work they do visit their website – www.amrefuk.org.

Kenneth’s Experience of Malaria in Cameroon

April 15th, 2011 | 2 comment

A photo of Kenneth from CameroonKenneth Fuh is a Commonwealth Scholar on postgraduate studies at the University of Manchester. He comes from Bafut, a malaria-endemic village in the North West Region of Cameroon. Kenneth’s entire life has been full of malaria attacks and he has lost many loved ones to malaria. He now looks back at his past and counts himself as a lucky malaria victim.

I was shocked to learn that one child dies every 45 seconds from malaria in Sub-Saharan Africa. I could have passed away a long time ago and not have had the opportunity to make something out of life. That is a fair representation of the fate of most African children who don’t have the opportunity to live for a decade. The effects of the high malaria-inflicted mortality rates are too vast for a simple page as this to encompass.

Like any other child in the community where I grew up, my malaria story spans for how long I have lived on earth. Though lucky to have escaped those scares, I offer my sincere gratitude to my Mum, Dad, elder sisters and brother for helping me being able to gain a living today. Among those horrendous moments of pain and discomfort, my first three months in the rainy city of Buea stands out to have changed my mentality about malaria and how different my life would have been if I followed the simple preventive strategies. I had just gone to University and had a warm reception by the fresh-breeding mosquitoes who took just four days to instigate some of the most distressful days of my life. Like any other victim, I suffered from fever, muscle pain, loss of appetite, and vomiting among other symptoms.

Though the repeated attacks had devastating consequences on my academic performances, the lesson I got was that unlike the thoughts of most teenagers, good health was (and is) a very precious commodity and should never be taken for granted. In the midst of my pain, I could realise how careless I had been in the previous years of my life. A mosquito net would have cost me less than a tenth of the amount I used to treat myself, but like most youths, I did not care to obtain one. Notwithstanding, I don’t think I would have used it if given for free.

The weeks that followed my life-threatening attack saw me more interested in acquiring and properly using the net than ever before. I had learnt the life-changing malaria lesson. I hope the youths who are subject to similar conditions do not make my mistakes. All you need to do is to get one and make sure you use it well. In my opinion, the best way of treating malaria is prevention and the net offers a great possibility of wiping out malaria and securing the lives of future African nation builders.

What do you think of Kenneth’s story?  Have you also suffered from malaria?  What was it like?  Please do share your thoughts with us by commenting on this post, or (if you are under 18) by entering our competition.

Mary Suffers from Malaria in Kenya

March 31st, 2011 | 2 comment

A photo of Mary poorly with malaria in Kenya

Mary Greer is from the UK and works at the RCS coordinating international youth projects, including Me and My Net.  She tells us about her experience of getting malaria last year.

It happened to me on a safari in the Maasai Mara in Kenya. I first suspected something was up when I spent a whole night in our camp imagining someone was crouched outside our tent slowly unzipping the entrance. Having spent the evening with my teeth chattering, I was suddenly burning up. In the morning I felt much better, but when I joined my friends for breakfast, it turns out I certainly wasn’t looking any better: ‘What’s wrong with your face?’. It was red and swollen from the fever that was raging as my body tried to fight off the parasites in my blood. Our guide seemed unconcerned, ‘Oh sorry, but you will be fine, I have had it many times’.

At first my friend refused to read aloud the section on malaria in our guidebook. I had all the symptoms. Luckily a doctor was stationed at one of the upmarket lodges inside the park. On our way into the interior I sat huddled in a corner of the van, covering my head from the sun as my companions ‘oooohed’ and ‘aaaaahed’ at the wildlife surrounding us. One small prick of my finger revealed I did indeed have malaria, but ‘only moderate’. ONLY?! I had been living in Rwanda for 6 months, during which time I had taken my anti-malarial tablet every day, without fail. Had I not done this, said the Doctor, I may well have been in far more danger than I was. I was given a very painful injection and a cocktail of drugs, and luckily I had just a few days before returning to the UK.

On the flight home, crunched up in a ball and longing for my bed, I tried to pinpoint which mosquito got me. Was it at the hostel in Nairobi where the window had been left open at dusk and mosquitoes had filled my room, or in a Ugandan village where the home I was staying in had just one net, and this was full of holes. It’s hard to tell. But what I do know is I feel lucky to have had access to the medication I needed.

What do you think of Mary’s story?  Have you also suffered from malaria?  What was it like?  Please do share your thoughts with us by commenting on this post, or (if you are under 18) by entering our competition.