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Malaria No More? A Woman's Journey to Fight an Insect

Last month, on April 25, 2013, the world observed the World Malaria day. Off course, this means that the media was showing movies, clips, documentaries about Malaria. One in particular stuck out to me, " Mary and Martha"- a film about two women, one from England and another from the States who lose their sons to Malaria while in South Africa. Three particular scenes struck out to me. The first one was of a mother fighting with congress to make Malaria a priority, and in one sentence summarizes the real struggle with Malaria- " How do you rage a war on an insect?" The second scene, much more personal, was of a young boy who was suffering from Malaria, and in the process of treatment had seizures, showing of the suffering that people, especially kids with Malaria go through. The third scene was of Mary and Martha, having accomplished their mission- carry large trucks full of mosquito nets and medicine for children in a remote town in South Africa.

As these scenes constantly replay in my head, I can't help but always revert to the second scene. You see, almost two years ago, I lost a brother to Malaria. I was in my comfortable home in New York City when I got the dreadful news, and up to today, 6AM on June 14th will always be one of those times I want to sleep through. For a long time, I could not sleep, I could see my brother at 13, ready to go to school, full of life, and ready for the challenges ahead, but it seems that on that morning, shortly after his 13th birthday, he gave in to Malaria. My mother, who was with him through out the entire episode, would tell me that my brother had seizures just before he died.

So as I watched the television screen during the movie, I saw not the boy (acting) but my brother. My first instinct was to turn the TV off, but the part of me that is trying to reconcile with this loss, was determined to see the end to this story. Would there really be a cure to Malaria? Would the women succeed?

The two other scenes have also been on my mind because I constantly struggle with the unknown, but sometimes what seems impossible. To realize that the two diseases that are central to Africa bear a woman's face, to see the and at times feel the hopelessness by women who face the realities of these diseases everyday- that still keeps me up at night.

Unlike Mary and Martha, neither I nor my mother took up the crusade against Malaria. You see, we have become jaded against the disease. There is a point in our lives where we have all had Malaria, and hospitalized, but we lived through it. So when one of our family members did not make it out of the hospital- that was a shock, and one that we for the most part live with everyday. I wonder then if I have betrayed my brother's memory by not crusading for greater funding and access of care for Malaria. I wonder if I should be doing more. And if I could, what would I do? If there is a cure, or possibly a better healthcare management for Malaria- do I owe it to my brother to find out? But maybe the most defeating of these questions, and the most hurtful- is the question of whether Malaria will really become a thing of history. Do we have what it takes to fight this insect, and manage our environment to see a day where we can say "Malaria No more?".......

Comments

Cali gal Michelle's picture

dmuragijimana- My heart

dmuragijimana- My heart breaks as I read your story. It breaks for a number of reasons: that a preventable disease consumes so many; that more funding is spent in war than for health; that you and so many have tragically lost those they love; but mostly it breaks for the "what ifs". I truly believe, that for the most part, each of us is doing the best we can at a particular moment in time. You, dear sister, were and are doing all you should. Simply by being true to self. By posting this story. By showing what a broad and serious problem this is. We can only move forward, we can not change what was. I have to remind myself of this when I begin regretting decisions that led to a tragic loss a few years ago. I still ache and wonder and cry, but I know that there's nothing I can to do change it. However, I can change the way I look at things, the way I move forward. The way I affect change by living out my values and using my skills.

I am so sorry that you lost your brother, and for such heart-wrenching pain. I know, however, that you will affect the world by sharing your story, and thereby honoring his life and memory. I will remember him on June 14th.

I'm sure you are familiar with this, but the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation is working towards eradicating both malaria and polio. They know it's not enough to treat it piece-meal, so they are working with partners and creating solutions for world-scale effect. Here is a link: http://www.gatesfoundation.org/What-We-Do/Global-Health/Malaria#TheChall...

Be well, my sister, and may peace find your heart.

Let us Hope together-
Michelle
aka: Cali gal

Listener
Sister-Mentor
@CaliGalMichelle
facebook.com/caligalmichelle

Deqa's picture

Deeply touched

My dear your post resonates with me in so many ways. We lose cousins, aunts, uncles, siblings, and parents to this disease on a daily basis in Somalia. The latest incident was few months ago, one of my relatives died because of Malaria.
I don't go near the hospitals because I know I will come back completely devastated and I am an emotional being, because in Somalia hospitals are filled with people who suffer from curable diseases but they lose their lives because there is lack of qualified doctors and funds for quality medicine.

My dear sharing this story with us is already a milestone. And I am really sorry that you lost your brother to this disease and I pray for you strength to withstand this tragedy.

And I am hopeful for the solution that Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is working on to eradicate this disease that Michele mentioned. I pray the answer comes to us soon enough to end this.

Love
Deqa

Graham's picture

Curing Malaria

Dear Deqa,

I spend a little time each day searching for likely people who might be interested in an answer to malaria .

Drinking Artemeisia Annua tea is spreading across Africa and the Far East but it still little known.
I came across it by chance.
A malaria expert sent me some seeds so I am posting them, along with growing instructions, to anyone who wants to try this answer.
Dozens of packets have been sent to African countries and this week I sent the first lot of AA seeds to an Indian NGO. I got a message from Bangladesh that they have received their seeds!

Perhaps the best article yet published is found at:
http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2013/0...

This really works! Pharmaceutical firms use AA to make their drugs but do not what it known that there is a cheap alternative!

Let me know if you wish to learn more - surely worth trying!

Yours

Graham Knight
BioDesign
biodesign.webeden.co.uk

Dear Dmuragijimana,

First my heart goes out to you for the painful times you have had because of malaria and your brother's death.

Yes, Bill and Melinda are working on eradicating Malaria BUT he has said to me that he will not see a cure soon, certainly not in his lifetime which is why the Gates foundation is focused on eradicating polio because he told me that it is within his reach in his lifetime.

So, the question becomes, what do we do. I mean WHAT do we do? right now as I write, one of my star students in LIvingstone Zambia in Grade 11, Derick Katango who wants to be a college professor and actually can be (I have been grooming him for gratness as he is a street orphan with a good brain), but he has not been in school or for tuitions for 3 weeks because he has malaria. And you and I know this is the way it goes. We start to make progress with a street orphan or vulnerable child and then they get sick. So, I am thinking that I have to take other methods for now. In addition to the nets, I have to get the pills or something for the kids I sponsor (53 of them).

Any suggestions.

Ubuntu(I am who I am because of who we are together),

Wendy

Wendy Stebbins
Founder/CEO
I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

Hi,
Malaria is the fastest killer disease,it damages the liver and the kidney in a twinkle of an eye and there is no immunity to it.I lost a 13 year old girl in my Orphanage by the name Lilian,;it is still a fresh wound to the entire Ket Wangi orphanage and we always remember her in our hearts and play the Ket Wangi you tube with a title of[ Ket wangi welcoming visitors],she is the lead singer in this session.Malaria is terrible and to me I see it as a spirit,it has no shame, it can put the whole family down and can kill without sympathy.It will take the African Continent years to find a permanent solution .I really appreciate the Anti Malaria campaign world wide on the 25/April/2013,I received mosquito nets for 20 Bunk beds and today the children are sleeping soundly and less expenses on treating malaria at the orphanage.Sorry for the loss of your brother,just have faith that you will meet him in the Kingdom of God,;death gives way to victory but it is sad to see one departs at an early age.;'Be blessed and lift up your burner of our Lord Jesus Christ,Amen!!!!! Meet me and the children of Ket Wangi Orphanage at;;-http//ketwangiwordpress.com
I hope to hear from you soon,
Emily

ketwangi orphanage and learning center Kisumu Kenya

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