By Kenneth Masamaro, Rotaract Club of Kisumu, Kenya
On 3 April, we hosted a malaria prevention program in Kisumu, Kenya, as part of the third year of Rotaract East Africa Impact (REACT). The project is a multi-district initiative that brings together Rotaract clubs from throughout Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi.
More than 100 members from 19 different Rotaract clubs across these countries travelled to the lakeside city to make a difference in the informal settlement of Nyalenda. A story is told of a young boy who was four years old and had many dreams ahead of him. One evening, the boy developed fevers and refused to eat. Though his mother had a premonition about it, she decided to brush it aside. The preceding week, her other two children, a boy and girl, developed fevers and had reduced appetites but their symptoms had resolved on their own.
The boy, however, did not improve and within two days had lost consciousness. He was subsequently rushed to the local hospital where he was diagnosed with severe anemia caused by malaria. Though doctors made frantic efforts to resuscitate him through blood transfusion and lifesaving anti-malaria medication, he died. Yet we know malaria is a totally preventable and curable disease. His was a preventable death.
Our project took many months of planning and coordination between the Rotaract clubs and their parent Rotary clubs, event sponsors, county governments, venues, community stakeholders and the community at large. After brief introductory remarks, members divided into teams to clear blocked drainages ditches that are a breeding ground for mosquitoes, to distribute insecticide treated nets, and to educate households on malaria prevention.
Rotary and Rotaract clubs continue to change lives in communities with the hope that the lives and dreams of young boys like the one above are not cut short by preventable diseases.