There is a mosquito in my room! Not only in my room, but within the netting that surrounds my bed. A fast flying, high pitched dive bombing, malaria-Mary mosquito, one of millions of terrorist silent killers of thousands of African children and adults each year, and one of them is in my room.
How did this happen? Perhaps I have left my guard down. I have been here in Goma two weeks now and this is the first confirmed sighting of a mosquito in my room. The rare appearance of these little buggers has led me to become a bit casual in my efforts for self-preservation. I leave my door open so as to receive the refreshing breeze from the lake. I eschew my smelly 44% Deet lotion. To escape the heat, I go about in shorts and a tee shirt when behind the high walls and steel gate at the oasis called Maji. The shorts, created when armed with my fingernail scissors, I attacked and severed most of the legs of a pair of Congolese linen slacks I had bought, thinking they would be cool. They were not cool in any sense of the word; they were both hot and cheap looking. The shorts are temperature wise cool, and with the uneven, unhemmed and stringy bottoms they achieve a kind of tawdry elegance, like the heiress with her ragged and holey jeans. Cool. But they do leave my legs undefended against dive bombing bugs.
I do sleep under mosquito netting, which is prudent, since these dangerous little critters attack at night, circling about, giving only a fleeting clue of their flight path by their high pitched buzz, and then silence. I lie there. Waiting for the whine of flight. Too late. A slight, every so slight burning on face (how in the world did it land there without me feeling it?) I slap, a punishing lethal slap. Too late. My face burns from the slap. Then the whine again. The little bugger is full of my blood and still can fly. Hopefully he got a dose of the malarone in my blood. Hope it kills the sneaky little bloodsucker.
Unfortunately, malarone is an expensive drug and completely out of reach of most African families. Malaria is a killer, but it can be defeated inexpensively. Check out
www.nothingbutnets.net where the following information and much more is available (all italicized date from that site):· Fact: Malaria is preventable, but causes nearly 500 million illnesses each year and kills more than 1 million of those who become infected.
· Fact: Ninety percent of deaths caused by malaria occur in Africa, where the disease is a leading killer of children. Every 30 seconds a child in Africa dies from malaria.
· Fact: Malaria is the #1 killer of refugees in Africa. Two-thirds of the 33 million refugees worldwide live in malaria endemic countries.
So, as engaged global citizens, what can we do to help?
In the poorest parts of the world, window screens are lacking, anti-malarial drugs are expensive, and so far an effective malaria vaccine does not exist. Insecticide-treated bed nets in these areas are arguably the most cost-effective way to prevent malaria transmission.
Bed nets use a simple but effective prevention approach: eliminate contact with mosquitoes, eliminate malaria.
The entire process of purchasing and distributing insecticide-treated bed nets to the most vulnerable people, as well as providing education and follow-up surveying on their use, is accomplished for just $10 per bed net.
Although $10 for a bed net may not sound like much, the cost makes them out of reach for most people at risk of malaria in Africa, where many people survive on less than $1 per day. Nets are a simple, life-saving solution, but we need your help to provide them to those in need.
I made light of the mosquito problem in the beginning of this blog. But as you can see from the above facts it is no laughing matter.
For $10 you can save a life. I know I have a few followers out there. Dig down into your golfing winnings and save a life.