A few months ago I joined volunteers from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya (ELCK) as they distributed more than 8,000 insecticide-treated bet nets in the Nyanza Province of western Kenya.
Although much Lutheran Malaria Initiative programming focuses on education and training rather than the distribution of nets, this effort targeted a specific segment of the population that had either been overlooked or didn’t qualify for receiving nets through a previous mass distribution led by the Kenyan government.
Joseph Oyugi is a 94-year-old widower who lives alone. Having lost his sight in old age, he depends on the help of his daughter-in-law, who lives nearby, to cook and care for him. In his long life, Joseph has experienced malaria many, many times. When malaria symptoms arise, Joseph’s son purchases the medicine to treat the illness. The new net delivered by volunteers from the Samanga Lutheran Parish replaced a net that was old and worn out.
Fleria Hayieniba is a widow who lives alone in a small two-room house made of mud walls with a rusted tin roof. In her late 80s, Fleria has lost her sight, most likely as a result of years of smoke damage to her eyes from leaning over a cooking fire. We delivered a net to Fleria and hung it in her sleeping room so that she would be protected from malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
Six people live in the home of Pacifica Nyaboke, including her 12-year-old granddaughter, Lydia, whom we met the day we brought nets to Pacifica’s house. Lydia was born with a club foot and weakened joints, which make it very difficult for her to get around. Lack of money prevented Pacifica from replacing the worn bed nets she and her family were sleeping under. We left two nets with Pacifica to cover the shared sleeping spaces in her home.