As LWR’s Regional Communications Officer for East Africa, Brenda Kimaro meets many of the pastors, evangelists, Sunday school teachers and volunteers who are working together to protect their families and communities from malaria. Here is one of their stories.
It’s an understatement to say Pastor Eliraha Mmwiri is a busy man. His parish, the Bonde la Ruvu Lutheran Parish, is the largest in the Pare Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT). With 28 sub-congregations, Bonde la Ruvu serves a membership of more than 8,000, most of whom are nomadic herdsmen, or peasant farmers attempting to eke out a living near the Ruvu River.
Many challenges face Pastor Mmwiri’s congregation, including malaria. “It kills the congregants within our parish,” he told me. “Most of the victims are women and children.”
Pastor Mmwiri didn’t waste any time moving into action after he received training from Lutheran World Relief and the ELCT. Having learned about the importance of sleeping under bed nets, and how to recognize the symptoms of malaria, the pastor travels throughout his parish to share the life-saving information.
Pastor Mmwiri has inspired many of the Maasai who are part of his parish to use bed nets even when they are sleeping outside, showing them how to use an overhead tree branch to hang the net.
Worship services, funerals, choir practices, youth and women’s group meetings are all venues Pastor Mmwiri uses to spread the knowledge. “We can also sing, dramatize and role play to sensitize our people on how to fight malaria,” he said. He’s got several creative youth in his parish with a real flair for drama, combining real-life scenarios with humor to capture their audience’s attention as they entertain and educate them.
“We are obliged to fight against malaria because malaria is unacceptable,” Pastor Mmwiri told me. “If we fight malaria from the grassroots we can succeed to end the problem.”
$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.