One year ago, my school sponsored my trip to Uganda. While there, I had the opportunity to travel by bus to Katulikirie--a rural village where we had distributed nets. The trip was not luxurious--I was the only foreigner on the bus, and for good reason--a few months later, I read in the Ugandan paper that the same bus company was involved in a motor vehicle accident on the route that I had traveled killing at least one passenger. On arrival in Katulikirie, I was greeted by countless people including a group of children. They had come to greet me partly out of Ugandan hospitality but also out of curiosity to see what I, a foreigner, looked like. They don't have many visitors in Katulikirie. This group of children sang and danced for me for hours. They worked their names into every song, worked my name into songs, and pulled me into their circle trying to teach me how to dance as they did which of course made everyone laugh. I learned their names, their schools, where they lived, and I was excited to learn that a few of them attended the nearby grade schools--Katulikirie and Bwyale. I was going to Katulikirie the next day to speak to the children about malaria. When I arrived to Katulikirie Primary School, I realized that all of the children who had benefited from our previous distribution had graduated. Still, the entire school came out to greet me. They performed songs, gave speeches, and entertained me again for hours. Yet, what had I done for them. In one weeks time, I would fly home to the comfort of Manhattan, and they would remain in Uganda, struggling to meet their every day needs. Continuing to get sick from malaria. This summer, thanks to the generous support of people like you, we were able to provide 7,200 students in the Katulikirie area nets, including EVERY student at Katulikirie Primary School! I am relieved to know that these children are protected against malaria. Thank you for your support. We are continuing to raise money for the students that I know in Bwyale. It is difficult to know that they are getting sick with malaria while we wait.
Thanks to your generosity, NETwork Against Malaria purchased 6,000 bed nets this spring for school-going children in the schools surrounding Katulikirie run by one of NETwork’s Ugandan Directors, Francis Banura. In Uganda, 40% of school-going children have malaria at all times making malaria the largest cause of preventable absenteeism. This fact is significant because education is the only way that the children of Katulikirie can escape their current poverty.
The children in Katulikirie are sons and daughters of sustenance farmers living off the land. They are so poor that they wear the same clothes every day, they do not have enough money for shoes on their feet, and they certainly do not have enough money for treatment for malaria.
When the children get malaria, they miss school, fall behind, and if their malaria becomes serious enough they are left mentally debilitated and can even die. Preventing malaria illness with bed nets is the first step in protecting the children from this illness, and the nets help them stay in school, so that they may have the opportunity to make a better life for themselves and their children.
Thank you again for your support. Below you will see the pictures of lives you have changed.
NETwork Against Malaria is currently very busy undertaking several projects. First, we have begun our annual local art contests in cities throughout the country including New York City and Omaha. Watch for winning entries or see how to submit a piece of work at: http://networkagainstmalariaartcontest.blogspot.com/
Next, we are preparing for our largest distribution ever in the coming weeks. Watch for pictures and video of the distribution to come. Our goal over the next several years is to cover all 30,000+ children who attend the schools overseen by one of our volunteers.
Finally, we continue to develop our curriculum for students and adults interested in learning about malaria, the children we serve, and how they are impacted by malaria and our work. Watch our newest animated video about why malaria bednets save lives and impact communities. Visit this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bPL72fwh-0 to watch the video.
Thank you so much for your continued support!
Thank you to all the NETwork Against Malaria supporters. Sekukkulu or Christmas is an important holiday and an important time in Uganda where people do not exchange gifts, but gather for food and celebration. My friends in Uganda are already wishing their family and friends a Merry Christmas. As you celebrate the holiday season, please remember our friends in Uganda where malaria "season" is all year around.
During the summer of 2011 while on a school sponsored research-directed trip to Uganda, I witnessed cases at the pediatric acute care unit at Mulago Hospital, the largest public hospital in Uganda where treatments and diagnostics are limited due to poor funding and poverty. The underlying cause of many comas, anemia, and even low birth weight is - malaria.
One of the cases I most remember during my stay in Uganda is that of six-year-old Sarah. Her father carried her into the room, stiff and moaning, her arms clenched, eyes wide open, her large pupils stared at nothing. What grade was she in? "P3", (third grade) her father answered. How long ago? "Three weeks." It was hard to image three weeks ago, this child attended third grade. Today, her Glasgow Coma Score is 3. Three weeks ago she was ok? "Yes, she was a little scared of animals, but she was okay."
This summer I travelled on dirt paths to villages that cannot be found on maps to distribute insecticide treated nets. I met girls in schools and families living in 10 foot huts who benefited from NETwork Against Malaria bed net distributions in years past. The region where we currently distribute nets is considered a region of "very high" endemicity by the CDC, and it is also extremely poor. I spoke with girls and families who had received our nets. They all said the same thing - they aren't getting malaria anymore. It is "reduced to 0 percent", keeping girls in school,helping parents escape from poverty and provide food for teir children, and most importantly,preventing avoidable deaths.
In the process of distributing the nets,people invited me into their homes and communities. In one village a group of children gathered and sang for me for three hours. I sat on a tree stump while they danced, taught me to dance and I learned their names... Koskova, Margaret, Samuel... I could not help but remember Sarah. I thought that if only she had had a bed net to sleep under . . she would be safe and perhaps dancing or playing under the same sun under which I also sat.
We are now in the process of raising funds to buy bed nets for Koskova, Margaret, Samuel, and thousands of the village children, Today, thousands of miles away I hope that they will enjoy Sekukkulu , that they are safe, and not perish from malaria. Thank you for your continued support.
I had the pleasure of meeting the 1000 children who received our malaria nets summer 2011. Check out this video and see your impact!
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