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Blog About Malaria Month

April 25th is World Malaria Day so I wanted to take a minute to share my experiences after spending 3 years studying abroad, traveling, and working across Sub-Saharan Africa. During my first trip to Kenya and Tanzania the summer after I finished high school, malaria never even crossed my mind. I was on safari and slept in big beds with those princess-style mosquito nets and never gave it a second thought. After spending a month in Ghana during college, I returned home with fevers and stomach pains so I went to the doctor thinking that I possibly had malaria. But the tests came back negative and I was fully recovered in a couple weeks. When I studied abroad on the coast of Kenya, I spent four months dowsing myself with insect repellant mostly to fend off any unsightly bites that would add to the bed bugs feeding off my body. But it wasn’t until I came to Mozambique and spent a more substantial period of time living in the community that I began to see how malaria is ravaging Africa.


When I heard that Peace Corps volunteers were encouraged to blog about malaria this month, the first thing I thought of sharing was an experience that happened to me about 2 years ago when I lived in central Mozambique. From the day that I arrived in Mopeia, there was a little boy that came over every day, rain or shine. I was the first volunteer ever in my town so he was a little stand-offish at first, but it only took a few weeks for him to adopt me not as a stranger struggling with Portuguese, but as a friend. Tinho was 4 years old at the time, and (I’m admitting my bias here because everyone who knows me knows that I am in love with this child) not only the most adorable child I had ever seen, but also the smartest. He would entertain me for hours with ghost stories, dancing, and singing. He would accompany me to the market every day, walk me to work, and sit with me on my porch. He was the first person I would see when I opened my door every morning and the last person I would see when I closed it every night. In short- he was the sole reason why I made it through those first few months at site when I was battling loneliness, extreme heat, and adjusting to living alone. So when his mother came to my house one night I had a feeling in my gut that something was wrong. She told me that he was in the hospital with malaria and that she was afraid he wasn’t going to make it. The next week was filled with anxiety-laden nights worrying whether he was going to pull through. My days were spent going through the motions, but always with a knot in my stomach fearing that I would return home to bad news. But then one evening I was sitting on my porch reading and his mother walked up carrying Tinho. He had just left the hospital and was thin and frail. He looked so much smaller than I remembered him- but he was alive! After stuffing him with bread and fruit for a week he was back to his normal, energetic self, but I’ll never forget how close we came to losing him to malaria.

This beautiful face was almost lost to malaria

Malaria is one of the top killers of children under 5 in the world, and it is the number one killer in Africa. Children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people living with HIV/AIDS are particularly vulnerable and are dying at an unnecessarily high rate. So this month, Peace Corps volunteers around Africa are campaigning to “Stomp out malaria.” By encouraging others to sleep under mosquito nets, take children with fevers to the health post early and often, and encouraging pregnant women to get pre-natal treatment, the risk of death by malaria can be greatly reduced. Every child deserves to make it to their 5th birthday, and in order to achieve this we need to intervene now.
I made the trip down to Mopeia last week and visited Tinho. I am so happy to report that he is healthy and started 1st grade this year. When I think about how a single mosquito bite almost deprived the world of this amazing kid, it makes me want to do whatever I can to get the word out about malaria. Tinho is one of so many children in Mopeia, in Mozambique, in Sub-Saharan Africa, and in the world who are at risk of dying from malaria. Be informed and spread the word. How will you stomp out malaria in 2012?

Help Pequenino, me, and Tinho stomp out Malaria in 2012!


Jordan Rief, PCV
Corpo da Paz/U. S. Peace Corps
Av. Do Zimbabwe 345
CP 4398


The contents of this blog are my personal thoughts and opinions. They do not represent the views or official policies of the Peace Corps or of the U.S. government.

Peace Corps Moçambique