Reflections on Malaria in Sierra Leone
By the sea
Goods are sold
Those who give
Men have used
A place on earth
Shed no tear
In God’s belief
In life turmoil
Toward heaven toil.
Peter Lowell Paulson
December 7, 2010
They almost didn’t let me board the plane in the St. Louis International airport because I didn’t have a visa.
I am pretty careful, especially when it comes to big things in life, but I thought my U.S. passport WAS my visa. I had a copy of a letter of invitation from the United Methodist Bishop of Sierra Leone and my itinerary, but this was not enough. It was not until I said, “Fine, don’t let me on this plane, my wife will be delighted that I don’t have to go to Africa today”, that the Delta Airline supervisor laughed and relaxed enough to say that I was only going to be in Ghana for less than 24 hours, en route to Sierra Leone so she let me go.
Several checkpoints later, a lot of talking by the leaders of our expedition, sitting in a room shame faced with three Sierra Leone officials and $150 fee finally got my passport stamped with a temporary visa to allow me into their country.
I was pretty well anticipating in my mind the images that I would see in Africa: The masses walking on the street, the street vendors with piles of goods from clothes, shoes, baskets of vegetables and fruit, and rural areas with huts, etc.
Nothing could have prepared me for our welcoming into the village we received in Bo, Sierra Leone.
When we arrived at our first village the brownish-red dirt road was lined with people. Men, women, and children were waiting for us, and as we piled out of our vehicles we began walking up the road and the singing and drums began.
I was, as were the rest of our group, surrounded by the throng. I have never experienced being in a throng before. Children mostly surrounded me, smiling and laughing and talking. Overcome with warmth of emotion I pumped my two fists in the air and shouted, only being heard by the children closest to me, “This is BIG!” The few that could hear me above the song smiled, and pumped their fists in the air and shouted back to me, “Yes, this is BIG!”
We were led and seated at a long table as “dignitaries” facing the seated villagers. After being introduced to them, we were introduced to their leaders. When the formalities were ended we toured their medical building. Inside the walls were lined with educational posters concerning AIDS, eye conditions, malaria, etc.
One man proudly took me into the supply room (which held only a few boxes of empty syringes), but he was especially proud of a white enameled freezer-sized, temperature-controlled storage unit for medicine. A generator kept the device at constant temperature.
I asked if I could see inside it. He acted as if he had never been asked that before, and after a bit of tugging was able to lift the lid. We both peered down into the rust lined interior of the unit only to see two single dose ampoules of medicine on the bottom. I had expected to see racks of various pharmaceuticals, but they were non-existent.
Afterward, we were educated by local leaders about the organization, communication and distribution of insecticide-impregnated bed nets to prevent malaria.
This initiative had been well-designed, extensive and largely complete for this Bo district. Bo is only one district, and there are 11 more districts in Sierra Leone. Now is OUR chance to help our brothers and sisters in Christ complete the task.
They truly need our help, and God willing we will stand united, and help.
Please join me, for I am asking YOUR help in the form of donations to raise $2.3 to $3.5 million over the next three years toward preventing the deadliest disease Africa faces -- malaria.
Malaria kills 1 million of the 300 million Africans each year. Most deaths from malaria are in children under the age of 5 years of age and pregnant women.
A donation of $10 will buy a bed net which could help save a life. A donation of $1,000 could save as many as 100 lives, and this translates to approximately $28 per month over the three-year funding cycle. Please prayerfully consider helping the Imagine No Malaria initiative. In the name of Jesus Christ our Redeemer, Sustainer, and Healer may we all be moved by the Holy Spirit to help. Thank you!