Maria and Pauline are friends and neighbors. They live in Chigumukire, a small village near the shore of Lake Malawi.
Malaria has long been a challenge in Maria and Pauline’s community, and its effects are compounded by widespread poverty and lack of education.
Malaria compromises lives—the lives of those who suffer from it, and the lives of everyone in their household. “Because malaria is one of the killer diseases in Malawi, sometimes it reduces the development,” Maria explains. “If you are suffering from malaria, you can’t concentrate on other developmental issues like finding money to pay for school fees, and finding money to do other things.”
“In the past before I had my small business, there was a frequent prevalence of malaria in this house,” Maria says. Her family includes three children. “A few weeks ago, one of my children was affected by malaria, and I needed to take the child to the hospital,” she remembers.
For those living in poverty, getting medical treatment for malaria can be an insurmountable obstacle: the nearest clinic to their home is 8 miles away, clinic services are not free, and transportation can be difficult to come by. Maria, however, is one of the more fortunate ones.
Several months ago, “I got a loan from the Village Savings and Loan Association,” she relates. “I used the money to start a small business baking donuts and cakes.” The Village Savings and Loan Association that gave her the loan was funded through the Lutheran malaria program. That loan helped her to stabilize her household income, purchase a second bed net for her family, and overcome the obstacles of health care access when her child got sick. The child was successfully treated for malaria, and survived.
Maria is thankful for the presence of the Lutheran malaria program in Chigumukire. “Knowing about the problems of malaria and also being protected [by our nets], it made quite a difference. Although we still suffer from malaria sometimes, there is a big difference in our lives… Now the malaria program has come to us and added development to our lives. I feel I can see a good future, as the program of malaria continues.”