Lately I have been thinking- what if I were born somewhere other than America? What if I had been born in Sierre Leone which, according to the World Factbook, has a high risk of contracting malaria? Would I have made it to adulthood? If I did, would my children still be alive? The infant mortality rate in Sierre Leone is 1 out of 3 (!) due in part to malaria.
“Why is this on your mind?” you ask. I have a very good friend who is in the in the Peace Corp now. Barb is stationed in Ghana and she has been such an inspiration to me. She too was a single mother. We attended college together and she always wanted to travel and work abroad. Now that her daughter is grown and finished with college herself, Barb has launched herself out of the nest to catch the current of her own dreams.
Here in America we benefit from vaccinations and readily available medicines. That is a privilege that many around the world do not share. We also benefit from across our life span from not having to be exposed to the negative effects of deadly viral diseases such as malaria. We can have the expectation that our child will make it past the age of 5. There are other social problems and chronic diseases that we have to contend with, but in general we no longer worry about dying from malaria, measles or smallpox.
April 25, 2014 is World Malaria Day. I am reblogging this Peace Corps Passport post in order to spread the word and to encourage others to get involved and share. Their post shares tips on things that you can do to get involved. You can also see the President’s Malaria Initiative. Please take action if you care about other mothers and babies who are at risk of suffering or dying from malaria!