Today, April 25th marks WORLD MALARIA DAY, a day instituted by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2007 to raise global awareness of the need for continued investment and sustained political commitment for malaria prevention and control. Malaria kills an estimated 627,000 people every year. Most deaths occur among children under 5 years old, living in Sub-Saharan Africa where a child dies every minute from malaria. Crazy as all this sounds, MALARIA IS PREVENTABLE AND CURABLE! Government and Non-Government Organizations here in Guinea are combining their efforts to focus on 2 areas, the prevention of malaria with the use of mosquito nets and the proper diagnosis and treatment of people infected with malaria. Free mosquito nets have been distributed to communities throughout Guinea in 2013. Currently, there are various campaigns being conducted to follow-up with these communities to ensure their nets are hung up and that families are using them on a regular basis. The next phase of malaria activities will entail the training of health professionals throughout the country on how to properly diagnose and treat malaria infected patients. Medicine and diagnostic resources will be distributed by various NGOs working together in efforts to reduce malaria here in Guinea. Peace Corps Volunteers throughout Guinea, continue to conduct educational trainings and host awareness activities encouraging communities to make daily steps toward reducing and eventually eliminating this serious illness that touches everyone’s lives on a daily basis here in Guinea.
I am afraid. Yes, I admit it, I am. In a time of great uncertainty, a blanket of fear has covered the people of Conakry and Guinea. EBOLA is here. And where it will land next, is unknown. Is it in the sweat running down the brow of the man sitting next to me in the taxi, is it laden in the cash that I hold in my hand? Tuning into myself, I repeat, “I must not live in fear. Spirit will protect me. I am in alignment with my mission and passion. I am safe. I am loved. I am protected”. I again question why I am here and if I want to stay here. Feeling lost, I allow my path to become clear. Unforeseen events can challenge us in ways we never expected. I am being called to tune in and trust.
Laughter is everywhere. Laughter is medicine. Here in Guinea, it is the glue that binds communities together. When I find myself laughing with those around me, I feel connected with those I am with, no matter what language we speak or culture we are from. Laughter feeds the soul in ways we cannot express. I am beginning to realize that my efforts to be bien integre (well integrated) here in Guinea stem from the willingness to smile through uncertainty and to join in the laughter that fills the streets. I woke this morning to the sound of laughter from the school children next door, filling my heart with joy. I stepped into the office to greet my colleagues with smiles that feed my soul. Laughter left me with tears in my eyes, as my language teacher, Makan, recounted his first time at a hotel that had a “mini-bar” in his room refrigerator. And as I close, I hear laughter in the office next door. All is well.