The second week of August marks the beginning of summer for a the school-going Ugandan child. Two years ago I traveled to Uganda for their summer. Similar to the spring rains that proceed the US summer, rains proceed the Ugandan summer, and these rains bring mosquitos. Everyone is familiar with the pesky pokes and whines of summer mosquitoes, in Uganda mosquitoes are not only are an annoyance, but also the most deadly creature in the nation. Children are bitten by the mosquitoes and contract malaria.
During my trip to Uganda, I worked in a pediatric emergency room. There I saw countless cases of malaria. The story was so often the same. A father wearing a dirty winter coat--attire I learned is often associated with poverty as second-hand American winter coats are inexpensive in Uganda for obvious reasons--carried his emaciated daughter, similarly clad in a dirty little boy's parka, trembling with fever but unresponsive, eyes blankly staring ahead. He placed her on the exam table in front of me. The nurse translated. "She is 10 years old...in third grade...The father brought her to an inexpensive clinic up-country because she has malaria." The father pushed a small zip lock bag containing 4 white pills toward me. "Those are the pills that he bought there." She turned to me, "They are very poor. They cannot afford the treatment here," and back to the father, "He says that his daughter has only gotten worse. She no longer can talk. He tried to put the pills down her throat and spit food into her mouth because she cannot swallow." The nurse looked back at me, "That noise when she breathes is probably the food in her lungs." "He worries she will die. He hope you can help." A child so sick with a coma from cerebral malaria often does not get better. This little girl died a few days later.
Because poverty prevents parents from seeking appropriate care for their children, they often present to the hospital at a point where the child is unlikely to get better--even if the child was treated at the best hospital in the USA with the most expensive medical equipment. As this is the reality, I believe that prevention is the best form of treatment. We have distributed over 15,000 nets to school children like my third grade friend. We could not have done this without your help.
We have the opportunity on May 1-3 to conduct six distributions in grade schools in Katulikirie. These distributions will come the week before summer vacation--just in time to protect the children against post-rains malaria season. Before conducting this distribution we need an additional $7,000. We urgently, desperately need your help.
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