Spreading Life-Saving Messages in Liberia
This year on April 25th we commemorated the 10th annual international recognition of World Malaria Day—a day on which we bring attention to and celebrate efforts to combat malaria globally.
At Peace Corps Liberia, we encourage Volunteers to contribute to this initiative throughout the entirety of their 27-month service, but especially during the month of April. This year, to encourage Volunteer participation in malaria prevention projects, our Volunteer-led Malaria Committee organized a competition. Our goal was for at least 75% of Volunteers in each of Liberia’s 15 counties to plan or participate in some sort of malaria-related activity.
Here’s a recap of our efforts!
As math and science teachers, topics such as malaria transmission and mosquito reproduction were simple to incorporate into lessons in the classroom. Some Volunteers worked to bridge the gap between schools and clinics by inviting doctors and healthcare outreach workers to come and speak to their students about malaria. One Volunteer held a community workshop for pregnant women and their partners to educate them on the possible severe complications of malaria during pregnancy and the high risks it poses for infants and young children. At one school, the topic of malaria was innovatively integrated into a graphing activity that, when math equations were solved correctly, provided coordinates that resulted in a mosquito drawing.
Of all of the activities completed, however, creative efforts that incorporated artistic skills were the most prevalent.
The most popular project among Volunteers and community members was the fabrication of malaria prevention and awareness murals that were spray painted using stencils (part of malaria kits provided by PC/Liberia) on highly frequently areas in communities. This was often done by Volunteers alongside students, school clubs, or active community members. Some Volunteers and students got extra crafty and freehanded their own images and messages, too.
Apart from murals, the other widespread creative pursuit employed the Liberian pastime of performing dramas to convey messages. Throughout April, but especially on World Malaria Day, many Volunteers encouraged students to put on attention-drawing shows at their schools and at highly frequented market areas. Students fashioned mosquito costumes out of locally-sourced materials to humorously teach about malaria transmission through a mosquito bite. Dramas also demonstrated correct mosquito net hanging and usage as well as the risks involved with not sleeping under a net. In a more casual yet still theatrical endeavor, one Volunteer read a large illustrated children’s book called ‘Ms. Mosquito’ on her porch to young children from her community. This story outlined malaria prevention in a child-friendly manner and emphasized prevention methods.
The PC/L Malaria Committee judged and chose winners of our World Malaria Month Competition.
In terms of the raw number of Volunteers by county who conducted or participated in malaria related work, Nimba County had the highest with 10 Volunteers. Based on the percentage of Volunteers divided up by county, four counties successfully met or exceeded the committee’s 75% Volunteer participation target. Gbarpolu and Lofa Counties both triumphed with 100% participation, while River Gee and Nimba Counties achieved 75% participation or higher within their areas.
Across PC/Liberia, 48% of our Volunteers participated in the spread of vital messages about this preventable and treatable disease. The Liberia Malaria Committee is already brainstorming for and looking forward to next year’s competition and how to further encourage and support the dissemination of these life-saving messages through our dedicated Volunteers and partner communities.