Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bite Back

Every two or three months we receive an update on J from the orphanage.  As you can imagine, it’s always received with a ton of excitement!  Last month, however, when we got the update on J, they told us he had just gotten over malaria.  While it made us sad, and made us wish we could be the ones to nurse him through it, we felt so thankful because we knew he received great care.  Apparently the malaria will be in his system for about the next five years and it will rear its’ ugly head again, but he is safe because he was treated right away.  Obviously, not every child is so privileged.  We’ve dealt with and thought about malaria in the past.  We have given money to Compassion International to help buy mosquito nets for folks in Africa.  We have taken malaria pills  when we went to Uganda years ago.  We certainly knew enough to know we didn't want to get it, but to be honest we had never really researched it.  From my safe place here in America I understood that kids and adults die from it but honestly that fact never really moved me too much because I had never been touched by it.  I hate to admit that.  I hate to admit that I am mostly indifferent to other people's kids and their problems.  But I have been in the past and I am still guilty of that right now.  Thankfully God has been working on me and opening my eyes to some things I need to work on!  So when I found out J had malaria I did some research.  In his book The Hole in Our Gospel, Richard Stearns, the CEO of World Vision, described the impact of malaria on the body:

 The one celled parasites that transmit the disease, known as plasmodia, are carried by mosquitos of the genus Anopheles.  Just one drop of water the size of the period at the end of this sentence can contain as many as fifty thousand plasmodia-yet it takes just one to kill a person.  That's because once in the body, a single plasmodium can multiply into the billions.  These "storm troopers" invade the blood stream, entering and destroying red blood cells.  The body's temperature then rises sharply in an attempt to "cook" the parasites to death, and the victim suffers headaches, muscle pain, and extreme cycles of fever and chills.  In the worst cases, the parasites manage to invade the brain-cerebral malaria- causing it to swell and pushing the victim into a coma. As brain cells die, the body begins to shut down.  Once too many red blood cells have been destroyed, the blood supply to vital organs is disrupted, the lungs can no longer get enough oxygen, and the heart struggles to pump.  The weakest and most vulnerable victims, usually children, succumb, as their little bodies can no longer fight the disease. ...Those who survive their bout with malaria may suffer brain damage and diminished capacity and will most likely have recurring episodes of the disease several times a year if they live in a malarial region.

Did you know:
- One million Union Army casualities in the U.S. Civil War are attributed to malaria
-George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant all suffered from malaria
-in the Pacific theater of World War 2 casualities from the disease exceeded those from combat
-malaria was wiped out in the U.S. in the 1950s by spraying DDT in swamps and homes

- 350-500 million cases of malaria appear each year
- more than 1 million people die from malaria each year
- 750,000 of those deaths are children in Africa...that is one kid every 30 seconds

- in Uganda it is estimated that 12 million people become sick with malaria every year
- in Uganda 70,000-100,000 kids die from malaria each year

 Those statistics are unbelievable because this disease is totally preventable and can be eradicated in the rest of the world just like we did it in this country.  Why do I go overboard when my kids get sick but don't do anything to stop another Mom's child from dying? 

Compassion International has an incredible program called Bite Back and for 10 dollars you can help a Mom put her son or daughter to bed each night under a safe mosquito net.  The money will buy a treated net and provide education and malaria medicine for a family. In honor of our children, we are going to make a commitment to help fight malaria...will you, too?    

  "The first reason to work to eradicate malaria is an ethical reason-the simple human cost.  Every life has equal worth.  Sickness and death in Africa are just as awful as sickness and death in America.  In Africa and other areas of the developing world, malaria keeps adults from going to work, students from going to school, and children from growing up.  Any goal short of eradicating malaria is accepting malaria; it's making peace with malaria; it's rich countries saying: "We don't need to eradicate malaria around the world as long as we've eliminated malaria in our own countries." That is just unacceptable."  - Melinda Gates



  1. I know what you mean about hearing it or watching it on tv yet really having no understanding. I, too do the same thing.
    It's quite overwhelming at times and one wonders what lil ole me could ever do to make a difference. But I guess thats part of the problem. We should never think our $10 is useless if that $10 will give a child a mosquito net. Thank you for helping open our eyes to more truths.
    John Piper did a sermon in part of the golden rule and he said it went way beyond how we as americans think. But the depth of that meaning is kind of what you said in the post. If we wouldn't want it happening to us then why is it ok to sit back and be melancholy about what is happening to others. We should never be ok with anything negative in our world. And its never OK once you've been made aware of something to sit back and do nothing. At the very least, commit to pray and seek God what you can do.
    Anyway, I'll get off my soap box now.
    Love ya girl!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this!! It's incredible that just $10 can save a life. I'll be purchasing netting through Compassion's program! :)