Submitted by Michaela Sholes
You know those surprise moments that catch you off guard and you're so excited that you just want to hug the person, even though it would be completely inappropriate? That's how I feel about health education and the moments when you actually see it changing behaviors and having an impact. Ben and I stopped by the Fulani camp earlier today to catch up with Alai for a moment. We were sitting under the tree in their front yard talking when, mid-sentence, I noticed something... There was a fresh mosquito net hung over an area on the front porch of Alai's house!
I should explain why this makes me so happy: a few weeks ago, I wrote a blog about working with Alai and Amina in order to take some pictures for the malaria poster. During that photo session, we took pictures of the net Amina has hung over her bed which she shares with the children. We learned during this session that Alai actually sleeps outside on the front porch every night in order to keep an eye on the cows, and that, although he makes sure his family sleeps under a bednet, he himself did not! We took a picture that day as an example of a behavior that individuals should try to avoid in order to prevent malaria. This was particularly poignant because at the time, his daughter was battling a rather severe case of malaria and spent about a week going back and forth to the hospital to manage it. So, at some point between then and today, he has taken the initiative and has hung a net over his sleeping area of the house too!