Thursday, September 25, 2014

The next project was the distribution of several thousand mosquito nets.  Our target group was initially the children under 5 years of age and their mothers, especially pregnant women.  Then we followed up with the elderly and infirm, which represent most of the deaths caused by malaria in Malawi.  The children are particularly important, since in the villages they have only a 60% chance of surviving until they are five years old, due to malaria.  The thought of losing 40% of your children in infancy just hurts my heart. Pregnant women are far more likely to die from malaria than any other cause, and since they represent the caregivers for the children, they are very important.  Of course the aged are weak and malaria is commonly fatal.  Some of the versions can kill otherwise healthy persons within 48 hours. There being no immunization against malaria, the nets are our first defense.

We try to work within established service groups, so many of the nets went to orphanages and schools, with no regard to religious affiliation. We do not proselyte in connection with these distributions, they are strictly for humanitarian reasons, although the recipients all know they are from the "Latter-day Saint Church."  We get lots of questions about the name...
A member of our District Presidency supervises the distribution in Ndrandi.  He is also the Public Relations Director for our zone.
 This is the outside of the orphanage.

This group is from another school, which has a really fine facility, but no funding.  It is always the same here, as NGO's and churches fund improvements, but cannot supply ongoing support.
We could not take a picture of the recipients here at the reformatory for privacy reasons, but we also furnished nets to the staff so that they may remain healthy and fulfill their role as support for troubled teens in this facility.

Many of the remainder of our nets were distributed into specific villages, where the mortality rate is the highest.  It is hoped that they will help for  a number of years.  The insecticide with which they are treated lasts several years and multiple washings, but then the nets become just a physical barrier, which is still useful, but not as effective. 

Again, it was a rewarding couple of weeks, but sometimes it seems that our efforts are just a drop in the bucket, there are so many needs.  We also know that in spite of our best efforts, some of these nets will be sold on the black market to buy food.  Teaching people to look a little farther ahead than just their next day's meal is really hard. Still we press on, hoping to make a difference in someone's life.

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