“SMALL minds discuss people, AVERAGE minds discuss events, GREAT minds discuss ideas.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt
Vola is an 8th grade English Teacher in the small village of Mahanoro on the East Coast of Madagascar, one of the most Malaria prone regions of the island.
When I met my counterpart, Vola, her smile lit up the room. Her charismatic personality, positive energy, and drive to make a difference in her community, makes her the ideal heroine in my eyes. Vola, a teacher at the local middle school, has been a Stomp Out Malaria advocate since I have moved to site. Her creativity and love for educating has been a breath of fresh air to work with. Together we have started an 2 English Clubs at both Middle Schools and 1 High School Club focusing on Malaria awareness and prevention in the village of Mahanoro. Each club has an average of 100 students who participate weekly and have been educated with the Night Watch Curriculum. Last week we held a Dream Banner session at our club and over 175 students attended to “draw out the dreams” and hang them underneath their nets. Vola, teaches over 300 students and every morning she asks, “Did you sleep under a net last night?”. She goes above and beyond to ensure that her students understand the importance of properly hanging their nets and teaching them how to properly care for it.
Vola’s enthusiasm to help Peace Corps and USAID in its fight against Malaria stems from a long history with the disease. She explained to me that when she grew up her neighbors and family members were not properly educated about prevention methods or net usage. Instead of protecting their children from Malaria and sleeping under mosquito nets, individuals were using nets to fish shrimp or cover their crops. She mentioned that it became routine to see children under 5 years old as well as her younger siblings being sent to the hospital and treated for malaria. She stated, “Ever since I remember Malaria has been here in Mahanoro, but today I want to change that, today I want to make sure every child and family is safe against Malaria. Today we stomp Malaria!”
In lieu of Malaria Awareness Month, we are planning a Malaria Festival, inviting all the schools and community members to join. We are collaborating with the local health workers from 10 different countryside villages and inviting them to help in the demonstrations at the festival. We will be educating about Malaria and prevention methods through an all-day exhibition and hands on workshops! In addition, we will be holding a Malaria Mural art contest. Students will enter a Malaria Drawing representing prevention methods and healthy living practices, the winner will have his/her drawing made into a mural in the center of town. We are also holding a dance contest and singing contest to the very popular Malagasy song “Tazo Moka” by Jerry Marcoss. The songs lyrics speak directly about prevention methods, sleeping under a net, properly caring for your net, and ACT Malaria Medicine. Lastly, we will be having a soccer tournament and motivating students to participate in the Grassroots Soccer Malaria Drills. We have already received a great interest from the community and 4 different schools have signed up both girls and boys teams to participate in the tournament!
PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINK and ***LIKE*** the picture to nominate her as a malaria hero!