Rising and Shining Against Malaria
The visit was meant to be purely educational. The MNM team would speak with kids at the orphanage about malaria, get them to ask questions, and hand out mosquito nets and fun prizes. But because we were accompanied by Sine, a Cameroonian music icon, winner of 2008 Africa Star Award, and K.O. Palu Malaria Ambassador for the NightWatch campaign, the trip sprang more surprises than we could have possibly imagined.
We were in Ntolo, a village located about three hours’ drive from Douala, Cameroon’s economic hub. We were received not only with beaming smiles, but an enthusiastic dance and heartfelt rendition of the children’s song ‘Rise and Shine.’ In addition to the kids welcome performance, we were greeted by our host, the orphanage’s director who was also assisted by Peace Corps volunteers from the U.S.
The kids were engaged in a discussion about malaria - their experiences with the disease, and how to properly use a bed net. The excitement grew as Sine conducted an interactive quiz about malaria diagnosis, treatment and prevention, and gave out little prizes (courtesy of our in-country health partner IRESCO) for correctly answering questions. All this talk of malaria and the importance of prevention was finally put to the test in one of the children’s’ dormitories, where Sine demonstrated how to hang up the nets and tuck the edges under the mattress so that the child could be totally protected from mosquitos as they slept.
But the euphoria came to a fever pitch when Sine performed an impromptu acapella version of one of his most popular songs – the children’s excitement so high that we could barely gather them for a photograph with the singer before it was time to leave!
That afternoon, as we waved goodbye to the children and our Peace Corps partners, we reflected on the intensity of the impact that Sine’s presence, which had only previously been seen or heard through TV and radio, had on the children. And above all, as a team, we celebrated that these kids now had the knowledge, tips and nets needed to rise and shine above malaria.
This post was written by Mirabell Kumfa, Communications Manager of our Cameroon country team.