Célestine Daikoutekle, a 40-year-old mother of nine, is a refugee who fled violence in the Central African Republic. She and her family are now in Democratic Republic of Congo, in a village called Gbadakila.
She can speak some French and Sango, the two official languages in the Central African Republic, so plays the role of translator for a medical team who have set up a 3-day mobile health clinic. After explaining to the other refugees how the mobile clinic works, she calls her five-year old daughter, Sandrine, who is sick, for a consultation with the doctor. A quick test confirms that Sandrine suffers from malaria. Her mother is not surprised.
From UNHCR ( the UN Refugee Agency), “I’ve been here for eight months,” Célestine says, while a nurse prescribes her daughter with a drug called Coartem. “I live in a shelter we built with dried leaves. We have three mosquito nets that we bought in Gbangi [a nearby town], but they are already pierced and torn. We bought them to prevent us from diseases, but my children very often suffer from malaria.”
“Refugees in Gbadakila are aware that bed nets can help prevent fly and mosquito bites. But many do not know that mosquitoes transmit malaria, so bed nets are seldom a high priority. Having lost nearly everything during their escape, their main concern is finding food. Only a few managed to bring mosquito nets when they fled. Some find a way to buy one after reaching safety, but often these are old and offer little protection.”
To combat this crisis, two of our favorite organizations are teaming up to make a huge impact on World Malaria Day, which is this Saturday, April 25th.
UNHCR, Nothing But Nets (a grassroots campaign to save lives by preventing malaria), UNICEF and many other partners have come together for The Million Nets Pledge. Together they will work to send one million insecticide-treated nets to refugee families in sub-Saharan Africa by the end of 2016.
Nothing But Nets Director Chris Helfrich explains, “There has been a large surge in refugee families displaced by conflict in several countries across Africa. After all they have endured and survived, these families should not have to fear dying from a mosquito bite.” Protecting these families so they can rebuild, be healthy, and thrive is exactly what The Million Nets Pledge is all about.
Anyone—from students to CEOs—can join The Million Nets Pledge by sending a net to a refugee family, organizing a local fundraiser, or even contacting members of Congress to ask for more support in the global fight against malaria. Even learning more about those who have encountered malaria, and sharing their stories makes a difference.
Take Action Challenge
Join UNHCR, Nothing But Nets and other incredible partners by signing The Million Nets Pledge and make a donation – just $10 provides a net. You can follow the conversation via #DefeatMalaria and #MillionNetsPledge. Read more of Célestine’s story and others gathered with her here.
Photo credits: UN Foundation | Corentin Fohlen