By Heidi Isaza, World Vision US
Malaria remains the number one killer of children under 5 in Zambia and it was a menace for Rachel Chuya and her family. "I would ask, 'Why do we have malaria so often?'" she remembers. That was then, this is now. Thanks to the World Vision, Rachel's family is now free from malaria and its crippling consequences.
"Malaria would not end in our household," Rachel Chuya, a mother of five, says. "It was like we were just exchanging [it]. When my husband suffered from malaria and he got healed, the next person [to get it] was me. When I recovered, it spread to our children... Nothing worked [to stop malaria]," she remembers.
"It was very painful," says Rachel, as she remembers what it was like when her children would suffer from malaria. "The child would be shivering and their eyes turned yellow. The vomit was yellow and a lot of strange things were happening at the same time."
Rachel and her husband found themselves in a tough place. "It is difficult when a child is suffering from malaria," she says. "As a mother, you are stuck. You get home [from the clinic] and there’s nothing you can do. All that comes to mind is, 'I am waiting for my child to die.' I have seen a lot of people die from malaria," she says, somberly.
Thankfully, none of Rachel's children died from malaria, but they were suffering other lasting effects of the illness. "Malaria was very disturbing to my children who are in school. When they suffered from malaria, it would take them a minimum of two weeks to heal and by the time they returned to school, they would be left behind," she says.
Rachel knew the answer to her family's problems could be found in purchasing mosquito nets to protect herself, her husband and their children when they were sleeping — the mosquitoes' favorite time to feed. But, although the nets are relatively inexpensive (less than $10) they were not an option for her. "It has been challenging to decide whether to buy a net or to buy food for the children," she says. "Of course you choose food because with the little money you have you just have to buy food for the children," she says.
Rachel and her husband have to buy food for their family during much of the year because they are only able to grow crops during the rainy season. Their harvest does not even stretch far enough to feed their own family, let alone yield any surplus to sell.
Fortunately, the community where Rachel and her family live was blessed with the gift of bed nets, thanks to World Vision. Her family received three nets. "All of us are able to sleep under the mosquito nets," she says, with a smile.
The nets, she says, have made a huge impact on malaria in her family. "This time we are very much free [from malaria] and my children are healthy. Even at the clinic they are surprised. They say, 'Mrs. Chuya you can't be seen here, what's happened?' And I tell them that I have no problems now that I've got the nets," she says.
Lillian, 11, loves sleeping under the net. "I feel good sleeping under the mosquito net," she says. "I feel more secure because [the mosquitoes] are unable to come and bite us."
Not only has their health improved, the children's education is also better now that they are not bitten at night. "Now, I am a proud mother," says Rachel. "My children are healthy and when they go to school they are getting good results," she says, with a smile.
"Thank you so much to the donors who helped my family receive the mosquito nets. It has been a prayer answered for my household," she says.