Mosquito nets end the nightmare of malaria

World Vision provided mosquito nets for Calvin, 10, a sponsored child in western Zimbabwe, and his five cousins. Calvin, who is orphaned, had two cases of malaria in 2009. Since receiving a mosquito net, he has not suffered from the dangerous symptoms of this disease.

By Michael Czobit. Edited by Elisa Casey, World Vision U.S. Photos by Michelle Siu.
Published August 17, 2011 at 12:00am PDT

Young children at risk

Malaria is a common problem in the community where Calvin and his family live in Zimbabwe. Around the world, malaria is a leading cause of death for children under the age of 5, and threatens over half of the world’s population. However, 90 percent of malaria-related deaths occur in Africa, in communities like the one where Calvin lives.

Calvin’s grandmother, Cecilia Zulu, 52, has reared and cares for her six grandchildren, all of whom are orphans and have had malaria.

Her main fear is that her family would be affected by a more serious case of the disease. “Sometimes if malaria gets to advanced stages, it affects the brain — cerebral malaria,” she explains.

‘I was scared of death’

Cecilia was not alone in her fears. Calvin became terrified of the disease after a close neighborhood friend died in 2009. Ted, also a schoolmate, succumbed to the illness at the young age of 8.

Calvin’s fear of malaria was more than the dread of getting sick and missing an important lesson in school.

“I was scared of death,” admits Calvin.

Symptoms of malaria

In the same year that Ted died, Calvin faced two episodes of malaria. The disease caused a high fever and vomiting.

“I felt hot and cold. My head was painful,” Calvin explains.

Calvin’s grandmother took him to the clinic for treatment both times he was ill with malaria. Getting there was not an easy task, because the family lacks a reliable source of transportation.

Iyk Phiri, 7, one of Calvin's cousins, shows his happiness. Thanks to his mosquito net, he no longer needs to fear bedtime.When they arrived at the clinic, Calvin was treated with medication. Cecilia says Calvin was seriously sick for the first three days of each illness, but his condition improved on the fourth day. He missed a week of school both times.

‘The mosquitoes cannot bite me anymore’

World Vision helped Calvin and his family by providing them with a primary source of protection against malaria: mosquito nets. World Vision has distributed 7,000 mosquito nets to children in Calvin’s community.

Calvin, who is now in fourth grade, dreams of becoming a policeman when he grows up. Since receiving his mosquito net, he hasn’t had to miss a day of class due to malaria. In fact, he hasn’t had the disease since he began sleeping under the protection of the net.

“The mosquitoes cannot bite me anymore when I’m under the mosquito net,” Calvin says.

The nets the family received were an immense relief to their worry. “When they go to sleep in the night, they are protected,” Cecilia says. “I am thankful for the mosquito nets.”

These simple items have improved the health of the family, and Calvin doesn’t have to fear bedtime anymore. Instead, he can dream about his future.

Four ways you can help

Pray that Calvin and his family would continue to be protected from deadly malaria, and pray for other children, families, and communities that are threatened by this disease around the world.

Make a one-time gift to our Malaria Eradication Fund. Your donation, which triples in impact, will help provide life-saving interventions like insecticide-treated bed nets, medical care, malaria prevention education, and more.

Sponsor a child in Zimbabwe. Your love and support for a boy or girl in need will help provide him or her with access to essentials like healthcare and disease prevention assistance.

Give monthly to help us fight malaria around the world. Your monthly gift will help provide bed nets, medical assistance, and more in communities where malaria is a threat.