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Published: April 16th 2013
It's World Malaria Month! Do you know what that means? Volunteers throughout Africa are competing to do the most amount of trainings/projects/activities/anything you can think of in their villages to raise awareness of malaria and to promote prevention methods and early treatment seeking habits. In Burkina Faso, volunteers are painting murals at their local health clinics, incorporating malaria discussions into their teaching curriculum, or sitting in their markets fixing holes in nets.
For me, I have a whole week planned of events. Next week, I will be working with the CM1 and CM2 (5th and 6th grade) students and talking with them about everything malaria-related. Starting off each session, we will be playing Bed Nets & Mosquitoes. You start off with two ends called the "bed nets." Two students stand in the middle and act as "mosquitoes." All the other students try to run from bed net to bed net without getting tagged or "stung" by a mosquito. If you get stung, you become a mosquito and try to tag everyone else. Once all the students have been stung, the game is over. It's a great way to open up the discussion on how to prevent malaria. We'll be talking about how malaria is transmitted and ways to prevent it, giving examples of how they can start right in their own courtyard. Two volunteers even wrote and recorded songs (in French!) about how we can prevent malaria. Thanks to the mini speaker I brought, we'll be able to listen to those songs right in the classroom. With any luck, I'll get these songs stuck in their heads for months 😊.
Each week, I also work with the English teachers at the high school in having an English Club. Even though it sounds a little childish, high school students love running around playing tag. So, why not play Bed Nets & Mosquitoes with them? Yesterday, I wrote a short, very easy story in English about a little girl named Aminata who has malaria. The story tells of how her mother takes her to the health clinic to get tested for malaria and getting medicine. The doctor also tells her the importance of sleeping under a bed net all year round. With the English students, we will be reading this story and asking comprehension questions to make sure they are not only understand the English, but understanding the message from the story. At the end, just for fun, we're going to listen to the malaria songs. I want every child in my village to be singing those songs by the end of next week!
A part from working in the school system, I will be sitting in my market under my bed net for two days. Sure, I will look silly and it will be extremely hot, but I honestly can't go anywhere in my village without sweating and being stared at. So, why not make it worth it?! Village members will be invited to come under the bed net and answer questions about malaria transmission and prevention--get 3 answers correct and you get a candy! People (especially kids) will do anything for a bon-bon. Keep posted for an update in a week or so on how it all went.
In the mean time...Stomping Out Malaria in Africa is a Peace Corps initiative that uses strategic partnerships, targeted training Volunteers and intelligent use of information technology to support the local malaria prevention efforts of over 3,000 Volunteers in sub-Saharan Africa. For more info, check out Stomp Out Malaria at http://stompoutmalaria.org/bamm2013/ to see what volunteers all around Africa are doing to eradicate malaria!
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