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 Pauline and Maria’s community, and its effects are compounded by widespread poverty and lack of education.
“In the past,” Pauline relates, “malaria was a problem that we didn’t understand.” Now, through the ELCA-funded Lutheran Malaria Program in Malawi, community-based educators come regularly to Chigumukire to educate community members about the causes, transmission and symptoms of malaria.
These days, when Pauline or a member of her family gets malaria, she recognizes the issue. Along with the tell-tale fever, “another one of the issues is vomiting, and sometimes loss of appetite. Those are the signs—the symptoms of malaria,” Pauline relates confidently. And she’s learned to get the patient to the clinic within 24 hours of the appearance of symptoms.
Trained community-based educators also teach community members how to reduce mosquito populations by eliminating sources of standing water in which mosquitoes breed; “like taking care of the latrines and the trash pit,” she adds.
Pauline has hope for a healthier future in Chigumukire. “I am looking forward to the end of malaria in this village. Because the church is sensitizing us how to prevent malaria, I believe we can see the end of it.”