Moving Whole Communities from Sickness to Strength
“Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul.”
– III John 2, N.R.S.V.
Along with encouraging the purchase and distribution of long-lasting, insecticide-treated nets (LLIN), education and outreach are the other key parts of the NetsforLife® program. Ma Marie Zeon, lives in Neekreen in Grand Bassa, Liberia, with her seven children. During a recent net monitoring exercise, the community health volunteer realized that Ma Marie, who had two nets in her possession, was not using them properly.
The Netsforlife® health agent who had been trained to sensitize and educate his community on the importance and correct usage of the nets talked with Ma Marie. According to her, the net was distributed by an organization without clarity about its usage. She decided to use it to prevent hawks from snatching her chickens and on some occasions went fishing with it. It wasn’t until the volunteer explained that the nets had chemicals embedded in them to prevent her family from being bitten by mosquitoes, that she realized how essential it was.
After she went through an orientation on how to use the nets, Ma Marie was given two new ones for her family. She said, “No one has been diagnosed with malaria since we started sleeping under the net. There is always someone to address my concerns.” Because of her experience and testimony, other community members have purchased nets on their own and are currently using them. “This has indeed been beneficial to my family and I keep encouraging all my friends and relatives to use them. We are grateful.”
NetsforLife® has worked to instill a ‘net culture’ (a community-wide understanding of the protective value of nets and the right way to use and maintain them) through its cadre of volunteers. As a result, for every 10 nets distributed by NetsforLife®, another community member will acquire a LLIN net on their own, having heard ‘the message.’ This is evidence that a ‘net culture’ is taking hold in the communities served.
Behavior change is a gradual process that requires patience and persuasion. Through programs like NetsforLife®, we are seeing a transformation of culture that is long lasting, enabling us to roll back malaria. We must continue to support these efforts.
Fortunately with your help Episcopal Relief & Development is able to do just that. For example, recently we celebrated a major milestone. Over the last three years people like you joined congregations, dioceses, schools and organizations in a church-wide, grassroots effort to unite Episcopalians in the fight against malaria. Together we exceeded our $5 million goal for the NetsforLife® Inspiration Fund. This herculean effort has been a major catalyst for the growth, refinement and sustainability of the NetsforLife® program, allowing us to help over 22 million people like Ma. Marie. Because of you we are moving whole communities from sickness to strength and will continue to do so for years to come.
An infographic showing the latest stats on our NetsforLife® program.
2013 World Malaria Day Press Release
New url for website page: www.episcopalrelief.org/malaria
Gifty A. Tetteh is the Strategic Outreach Officer, NetsforLife® and Episcopal Relief & Development.
Photos: Top- Ma Marie Zeon taking a break. Bottom- How the net was being used before orientation.