Nets distribution signals time for change

April 14, 2010

As we stepped into the classroom at a mission school, I was surprised at how many mostly young adults listened intently to the instructor. He explained how to speak to residents of the poor neighborhood about the use of bed nets.
A list of points was written on a blackboard. He spoke each in a single sentence and asked a volunteer to repeat. Then he asked the entire group.
What struck me was that this effort had never happened before in this resource-deprived community. I was taken aback by how many community health workers had volunteered for this duty. More than 150 had volunteered to take bed nets into homes and teach people how to use them. And the volunteers in the room weren’t the full complement.
For the demonstration project, only six workers were needed. It was unusual to have more volunteers than needed. However, after the celebration that would follow and the demonstration for dignitaries, this small group would be taxed to deliver and train residents in the community to use the nets properly. They had their job cut out for them because nets had never been available to people here.
In fact, the community has barely any services to sustain and enhance life. Not clean water. Not proper sanitation. Not paved streets. Nothing but rudimentary health services.
But perhaps these enthusiastic young people revealed at least the start of an essential asset that can provoke change. They were here, they were willing and they wanted to learn and act. This alone is worth celebrating.

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