Volunteers arm communities against malaria

In a small, cramped schoolroom, in the chiefdom of Kakua, scores of dedicated volunteers are sitting elbow to elbow learning how to fight a deadly foe that creeps into their homes in the dead of night, often taking the lives of children under 5.

Armed with that knowledge, on June 5 they will start swarming every household within the 15 districts and capital city of Bo, handing out vouchers for insecticide-treated bed nets. The nets will put a wall of protection between people and the deadly mosquito that transmits malaria — usually at night, when it is most active.

The United Methodist Church is working in partnership with the government of Sierra Leone to distribute more than 350,000 bed nets, along with vitamins and medicine for children under 5 in a massive campaign to eradicate malaria and keep children alive and healthy.

In Bo, 1,720 volunteers are going through this training in preparation for the launch of this life-saving program.

Many of the volunteers are health care workers, but teachers, pastors and even students also have been enlisted to make sure the area is covered and protected. The city has a population of 650,000, and the goal is to provide three bed nets per family, depending on how many people sleep in the house.

Ernest Jusu, a nurse working with The United Methodist Church’s Sierra Leone Annual (regional) Conference, is on the front lines of training these volunteers and helping them get the crucial supplies to areas that can only be reached by motorcycle or walking.

“We are teaching the volunteers to understand how malaria is transmitted in language they can understand. There is a large population that is illiterate. Many also only speak Creole and Mende,” he said.

United Methodist conference leaders are getting the word out through live radio broadcasts, congregations and word of mouth in the days leading up to the launch.

Jusu is just one of a team of United Methodists in Sierra Leone passionate about making this campaign a success. They do not want to leave one family behind.

Jusu was born in Bo and raised by his uncle, who was a staunch Methodist. The uncle was a strong influence on a boy who grew up to start a HIV/AIDs unit for the United Methodist Sierra Leone Conference and dedicate his life to serving others.

“I want people to know what transmits malaria, what the malaria mosquito looks like, what they can do to prevent the disease. I want them to know about personal hygiene. I want them to know not to keep stagnant water, to close their toilets and to seal their bedrooms so the mosquito doesn’t have any breathing space.”

Gilbert is a multimedia reporter for United Methodist News Service in Nashville, Tenn. 


Like what you're reading? Support the ministry of UM News! Your support ensures the latest denominational news, dynamic stories and informative articles will continue to connect our global community. Make a tax-deductible donation at ResourceUMC.org/GiveUMCom.

Sign up for our newsletter!

UMNEWS-SUBSCRIPTION
Global Health
During consultations in Mabumbuza, Mozambique, mothers wait in line with their young children to receive medication at a mobile clinic led by The United Methodist Church in partnership with the Mozambique Ministry of Health. Photo by António Wilson, UM News.

United Methodist health partnership offers hope

Focusing on pregnant women and young children, church’s mobile clinic brigades serve isolated communities.
Disaster Relief
Flood survivors receive kits prepared by The United Methodist Church. Traces of mud left by the fury of the Cambambe-Dondo waters are visible. Photo by Orlando da Cruz, UM News.

United Methodists in Angola support flood survivors

Angola West Conference mobilizes to provide food and other relief as heavy rains destroy homes and other infrastructure.
Social Concerns
Demonstrators carry placards during a march against xenophobia in Johannesburg in 2015. Xenophobia — fear or hatred of strangers or foreigners — continues to be widespread in South Africa, where harassment and violence against African and Asian non-nationals are routine and sometimes lethal, according to Human Rights Watch. File photo by Mike Hutchings, Reuters.

Church takes on xenophobia in South Africa

In collaboration with the Council of Churches of South Africa, United Methodists are educating young people about xenophobic attacks and the meaning of being “foreign.”