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.
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