Meet John Fulli

Guest post by Jonathan Ernst

Meet Dr. John Fulli and his LMI team in Tanzania: they’re your average heroes/doctors/malaria-educators. They are also congenital laughers, serial smilers, incurable baby-talkers, incorrigible baby nuzzlers, serious szzerbet-givers and, well, run-of-the-mill life savers.

One moment they might be talking epidemiology and mortality and morbidity rates, and the next they might be stooping to greet small children. Fulli and his coworkers and counterparts from the ELCT are forever upbeat, even after hours crammed into their truck as they bounce down bumpy roads, clearly enjoying their work together. They danced together, they laughed together, they sang together.

Dr. John Fulli gets a necklace of flowers as a welcome gift from children in a Sunday school program at a Lutheran church in the Bugandika Parish, Tanzania, August 14, 2011. (Photo for LWR by Jonathan Ernst)

And why not? Their work in Tanzania, to help educate Lutherans about avoiding malaria, is paying off. All around them, they see joy in the eyes of children and parents who are empowered with the knowledge of how to take the upper hand over a dreaded disease that has killed so many children and caused untold misery for those who contract it multiple times through their adult lives.

When was the last time you heard a child sing a song about the flu at the top of their lungs? Or put on a t-shirt about salmonella poisoning and danced like there was no tomorrow? And yet, that’s what’s happening here in Tanzania as people celebrate their new-found power over malaria.

Dr. Fulli and his team were traveling last week in the remote Northwestern Diocese of the ELCT, nearly all the way to the Ugandan border, crossing dirt roads high in the hills, ferrying their truck across rivers, spending hours of time to get to their destinations: Lutheran congregations and Lutheran-supported health centers. For this diocese, it amounted to a victory lap, as they have successfully moved through the LMI program.

But there are many more bumpy roads ahead as they hope to bring LMI to millions more Lutherans across Tanzania, and through them, to their broader communities of untold numbers more.

Jonathan Ernst is a journalist visiting Tanzania on behalf of the Lutheran Malaria Initiative

Donate Now to LMI. For every…

$1 you can help a child with malaria receive medicine. By receiving medicine once symptoms arise, malaria is treatable.

$10 you can help provide one family with an insecticide-treated bed net and the proper education on its use. A bed net can reduce malaria transmission by as much as 90 percent.

$50 you can underwrite the cost of malaria prevention messages to raise awareness on a local radio station. Many people know little about malaria, including how it’s contracted and its symptoms.

$100 you can help train healthcare workers to diagnose and treat malaria. Training medical workers is crucial to successful malaria education and treatment.

$1,000 or more you can help provide microscopes and other medical equipment to rural health clinics. Laboratory equipment helps to specially diagnose malaria.