The gossamer thread, part 2: A different story

Today is World Malaria Day! Join World Vision in remembering the lives devastated by this preventable, treatable disease -- and in our mission of eradicating it from the world.

Yesterday, part 1 of "The gossamer thread" brought you into the lives of three families who have seen malaria's tragic effects firsthand. Today's story is decidedly more hopeful: It highlights the miraculous change a few square meters of netting has brought about for another Mozambican family.

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Mosquitoes, death, and sickness could not be farther from Delfina Candido’s mind. There is too much for the third-grader to do today with exams at school and then washing her clothes for choir practice in the afternoon.

The 8-year-old in Nampula province, Mozambique, is sitting on her bed with her two best friends, Angelina and Boassane. All three girls swing their feet in rhythm. They sit under a canopy of mosquito netting, which was provided last year by World Vision.

“After church,” Delfina says, “we will play all day long until we come back home.” She and her friends are avid jump-ropers. Perhaps Angelina and Boassane will stay over; all three girls can fit under the mosquito net.

Delfina jumps rope with her friends after church near her home. (Photo: Jon Warren/World Vision)

Outside, Delfina’s father, Eduardo, 35, thumbs through his daughter’s Portuguese workbook, mouthing the words out loud. Eduardo grew up during the civil war in Mozambique and missed out on a proper education.

Twenty years ago, Eduardo helped build the road in this community. It was World Vision’s first project in the area. As the country struggled to recover from civil war, there was little to build upon. World Vision gave men like Eduardo cash to work on roads and distributed seeds and tools so they could begin farming again.

Today, Eduardo’s home answers a question: Why?

Why have community members, relief staff, and donors worked so hard and given so much to support Mozambique? Eduardo’s house is proof. It is immaculate. The yard is swept baseball-diamond clean, the brush strokes still visible. A tall fence encloses two houses and a covered area for relaxing and gathering around a table. Eduardo recently built the second house, which better accommodates his family of five.

“Since we got the nets, we no longer get malaria,” he says. “Before, it was constant. It moved from one person to another. It never stopped.”

But when World Vision provided mosquito nets and training on how to use them, Eduardo’s family stopped getting sick. With no limits on his capacity to farm, his profits from rice, cassava, and peanuts skyrocketed.

“After the nets, we increased our yields,” he says. Before the nets, he could sell 10 bags of peanuts at U.S. $50 per bag. After the nets were installed, his yield increased to 15 bags of peanuts. In peanuts alone, Eduardo earned an extra U.S. $250 last year.

“Then we built a house,” he says. The new house is big enough for two beds. Each bed is covered by a net.

Eduardo’s girls don’t get sick anymore. Delfina is doing beautifully at nearby Naterre Primary School.

“She rarely misses school,” says her headmaster, Alfredo Francisco. “Delfina has very good grades.” In fact, grades have gone up for everyone since the nets were distributed. “Children are not missing classes,” he says. The teachers no longer contract malaria, either. Before, if a teacher became sick, class was dismissed.

“When children get malaria,” he says, “they are sent home with an older student to take care of them. So it affects two students.” Last year, there were four or five cases of malaria among his students every day.

A nurse at the nearby health clinic says that they used to admit 50 malaria cases a month at the hospital. But, he says, between January and June 2012, the number dropped dramatically, to 50 cases over the entire six-month period.

As the sun begins to weaken in the winter sky, Delfina’s mother, Aida, arrives home, carrying baby Graciosa. Aida, 25, is taking a three-day course in health and nutrition to learn to better care for herself and her family.

“Now, I have time for other activities,” she says. “I can do more things. I am not worried about the children home with malaria.”

Aida’s daughters are also now healthy. “They play. They go to school,” Aida says. “That makes me happy.”

Delfina and two of her friends pose happily under the insecticide-treated bed net they received from World Vision. (Photo: Jon Warren/World Vision)

And her life is richer as well. “I have opened another farm. I am producing more peas,” she says.

“Before, our prayers were to God to protect our family,” Aida says. “Now, we thank God for everything that He has done.”

She’s delighted to live in a place where her children can be sponsored. “I am grateful for World Vision. I never knew there was such a thing as a net that would protect me from mosquitoes,” she says.

“Before, we were scared of mosquitoes,” Aida says. “The darker it got, the noisier it got and the more they stung.” But now Aida simply ignores the buzz, confident that the family’s insecticide-treated nets are killing or repelling mosquitoes.

Families can flourish when they're not dominated by fear and disease. That’s why World Vision is dedicated to defeating malaria.

The strategy for victory involves canvassing the country with 2 million mosquito nets. “We train volunteers,” says World Vision’s Chandana Mendis. “We are responsible for community messages -- radio spots, theatrics, focus groups.”

Anything to get the word out that mosquito nets, when used properly, can save lives.

It’s a strategy that’s already working in Nampula province, where mosquito-free nights are leading to industrious days for parents like Manuel and Aida. All that separates the rest of Mozambique from this dream is a handful of gossamer threads treated with insecticide -- a mosquito net to take the fear out of life and rob death of its sting.

(Additional reporting by Lucia Rodrigues, Antonio Matimbe, and Marcos Marqueza)

This World Malaria Day, join with World Vision in our effort to stop this fully preventable disease.

Make a one-time donation to provide bed nets for families at risk because of malaria. These inexpensive, long-lasting nets repel disease-carrying mosquitoes when children are most vulnerable: in their sleep. You could even donate to provide nets for an entire village!

Also, consider sponsoring a child in Mozambique. For about $1 a day, your monthly gift will help provide children like Elsa with access to life-saving basics like education, medical care, clean water, nutritious food, and more!

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