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Communities at the Forefront of Preventing Malaria in Honduras
Published 04/24/2013 by Global Communities
By Dulce Pavón, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Global Communities Honduras
“Being here is a dream come true. To fly over this lost paradise and delight in the beauty of creation is absolutely priceless. People are so diverse, different languages, different culture, different skin color, different smiles. They say I am from the “interior”; I always thought they were. Here, life has another flavor, one that I have never tasted before and I can’t wait to try.”
Community volunteers are distributing mosquito nets and providing information on their correct and consistent use within their own communities.
Nothing makes you feel more like an outsider than needing an interpreter in your own country. So I had to try to learn some words to fit in and be accepted during the distribution of mosquito nets for malaria prevention in a small community off the Mosquito Coast of the Eastern Honduras. Every time we would go into a home, I would greet them “naxa (hello), yan nini damni (my name is Dulce)”, and the mother of the house would inevitably offer me a smile and then I was really in. My effort in trying to speak their language gave me access to more than just their outside porch; it made them believe in what I was sharing with them.
They welcome you in such a friendly way, but they also pick you up early on a motorcycle to go to work. Hop on the back and off you go! To bring joy, happiness, education and a bit more work to the families in the community, by distributing a couple of mosquito nets to protect them from diseases like malaria. Every morning the community volunteers would gather around a big tree to receive instructions (and maybe a little scolding) from the health workers on how to distribute the mosquito nets better each day. Some of the teams would stay in the center of town and some would walk for about an hour or more to other communities, under a burning sun across dirt roads, returning and the end of the day to sleep on a wooden plank, only to wake early the next morning and do it all over again. It was amazing to work together with these volunteers and see their interest in teaching their own people how to prevent diseases that could kill their children, and the response of the families when receiving this information and their willingness to learn more. The dedication the volunteers showed each day in believing that they were doing something meaningful to bring change to their communities continues to encourage me to work even harder. It was more than just a delivery of a mosquito net; it was bringing hope to the families of Ahuas.
During that week, over 5,000 treated mosquito nets were distributed in Ahuas and the surrounding communities. Seven teams of volunteers from the community went out to install those nets and educate their neighbors in the prevention of this disease. The volunteers were given skills they didn’t have before; the families were empowered to fight against a disease that is a known killer in their region. The community of Ahuas has presented an 83.4% reduction in Malaria cases from 2009 to 2012, and this is the reason why those hardworking health and community members are so valuable in our race against malaria.
Read more about Global Communities’ malaria prevention activities in Honduras:
Meeting Bill Clinton – One day in Ahuàs, Honduras
Combating Malaria on the Mosquito Coast