October 26, 2009
Today we had the opportunity to witness life in Tetugu, a camp managed by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). We had the great privilege to provide 200 nets to the health clinic, mostly for pregnant women receiving prenatal care. Almost 100 percent of the camp residents do not have nets, and there is a dire need. The health statistics for the month of September show that malaria has taken a severe toll on the lives of these camp residents. More nets are needed and, to be frank, they were needed yesterday.
We also went to a village where residents have recently returned after fleeing conflict in the northern part of the country. They were incredibly gracious and showed us around their village. There were a handful of huts and about 30 people lived there; all were related in some way.
It was heartbreaking and excruciating to hear their plea for nets. Nets are provided through the local community health center, and it is the health center staff who assesses the most vulnerable people of the community – pregnant woman and children under five – and distribute nets to them.
My hope is that after this observation trip, we can better understand the need for nets in the communities we visited. I cannot say this clearly enough — mosquito nets, treated with insecticide, are the best prevention against malaria. Children are dying as I write this because they are not protected by a net. We need more nets. We must help.
At the village, we met a mother who buried her child the day before due to malaria. I was devastated talking to her, yet committed to sending more nets to save more lives. I am privileged to hear this woman’s story and to be able to share it with you. Please continue your support for this incredible campaign. Remember that malaria is preventable, but nets are needed to make it happen.