MOLI, Niger – In the small village of Moli, Niger, a country where malaria is endemic, lives Chafa and her 9-month-old daughter, Aichatou. Their village is blessed to be situated alongside a river where they can fish, bathe, wash clothes, have rice fields, and irrigate their gardens. But this branch of the river gets cutoff from its main source during the dry season, causing the water to stand stagnate—becoming the perfect breeding ground for malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
As I held Aichatou and talked to her mother, I learned that Chafa had been diagnosed with malaria just over a month ago, was treated at the hospital, and is now taking medication. Her daughter Aichatou easily could have been the one to get malaria, especially at night as she lies down next to her mom on their single mattress in a small home that has unscreened windows.
Operation Blessing Niger’s Medical Director, Dr. Idi, explained about the growing problem of malaria in Niger. Not only is it endemic, but he also told me that the people of Niger are becoming more resistant to the medications that doctors have used to treat it. For babies, it can be especially hard to treat because mothers sometimes wait too long to bring in their sick child. They assume their baby is only sick and will get better soon, so when they do go, it is often too late and can turn into cerebral malaria, which can cripple or kill the baby.
Malaria is curable, but the best solution is to find ways to prevent it. One simple solution to combat this deadly disease is a mosquito net—and that is what we gave to more than 100 of the most vulnerable families in this village, all with children under the age of 3.
Each bed net provides these children and their families with a safe barrier of protection between them and the malaria-carrying mosquitoes—giving them a fighting chance for survival and a healthier future.