“I learned how to fight against malaria” – the Lutheran malaria program in Burundi

Posted on June 30, 2015 by Ashley Debilzen
Ben Brown

Leonard and Letitcia for web

Leonard Ndayisenga is no stranger to Lutheran World Federation (LWF)-Burundi programming.  For several years he has been a participant in the Community Empowerment Program, an LWF-Burundi program supported by ELCA World Hunger. The Community Empowerment Program works to equip Burundians with knowledge and training in human rights, leadership and sustainable livelihoods.

In 2011, Leonard and several of his neighbors banded together to begin a banana collective. LWF provided them with disease-resistant banana seedlings and education on sustainable agricultural practices. Their endeavor has been successful, and this spring the banana collective was able to expand to three fields.  Leonard and his fellow agricultural entrepreneurs have been able to share banana seedlings with their neighbors, as well, and they plan to begin cultivating pineapples later this year.

“The banana trees are doing well,” says Leonard, whose colleagues elected him leader of the banana collective.  “There are now many people in the association, and they have an increased confidence and courage now. We are all very satisfied and happy because the project wasn’t just beneficial for us but also for others. We’re proud to serve as a model.”

Leonard in Mwiruzi banana field for web

Malaria, however, has presented an obstacle to Leonard’s solid business plan. “When my family is sick with malaria,” he says, “we have so many problems.  When I am sick, it is difficult to work in the banana field and my business suffers. When my wife [Letitcia] and our child are sick, nothing gets done in the household; our home is paralyzed.”

And so, when LWF-Burundi introduced the Lutheran malaria program last year, Leonard was eager to participate. “I learned how to fight against malaria during the LWF training last spring,” Leonard says. “I learned how to recognize the signs of someone suffering from malaria: high temperature, vomiting, bad taste in one’s mouth, dizziness, loss of knowledge and awareness.”

The LWF malaria program also connected Leonard with his local Community Health Worker, who is able to give health care advice at the local level.

This time, “when my child got sick with malaria, I consulted with the Community Health Worker, and he advised me to go to the health center.  They had medicine there.”  Leonard’s three-year-old son, Idi Barake, received the malaria medication for free through a government subsidy program. He recovered fully.

Through his connection to the LWF Community Empowerment Program, Leonard has learned skills and become a community leader and entrepreneur, generating income to support his family.  And through the Lutheran malaria program in Burundi, he has learned important ways to protect his family from malaria, and to access the health care that they need to flourish. Leonard and his family look forward to a successful and malaria-free future!