Life without a Mosquito Net

09/17/13

You hear the whiny, high-pitched buzzing and awaken smacking yourself in the ear. But it’s too late. The mosquito has already bitten, and now there’s an itchy little bump on your temple. You try to go back to sleep, but every time you begin to drift off, you hear it again—the worst sound in the world. You swat at the air, clap your hands, but you know that even if you kill the one that just bit you, there are dozens more just like her, waiting for a taste of your blood. 

 
And so you don’t sleep. You can’t. Maybe you’ll catch a nap tomorrow afternoon. 
 
If you lived in a mud hut in Malawi and didn't have a mosquito net to sleep under, this would be your nightly routine for six months of every year. But for 17-year-old Jacklyne, who lives in the village of Chirombo, it wasn’t just the buzzing and itching and lack of sleep that bothered her. It was the diseases the mosquitos brought with them. “We had lots of mosquitos, so I had lots of bites,” she says. “But I also got sick from malaria numerous times.” 
 
Jacklyne suffered from multiple bouts of malaria during the rainy season           Jacklyne suffered from multiple bouts of malaria because she had no mosquito net to sleep under.
 
There’s nothing good about malaria. When it hits, your temperature rises dramatically and you begin to shake from the chills as your body tries to cool off. Then you sweat profusely. You can’t eat because you’re too busy vomiting, and your head is pounding. If you’re young or elderly, there’s a good chance you won’t survive the illness—in Malawi, 40 people die from malaria every single day. 
 
If you’re a girl in seventh grade, like Jacklyne, you certainly aren’t going to make it to class when you have malaria. “When I got sick, I was not able to go to school because I was weak and feeling pain, so I was not able to go until I was feeling better,” Jacklyne says. “I was missing a lot, because when I got sick I would stay home one week each time.” 
 
Jacklyne’s siblings had to spend time at the hospital because of malaria
Jacklyne’s younger siblings had to spend time at the hospital because they were getting bitten so often by mosquitos carrying malaria.
 
The disease affected all seven people living in Jacklyne’s house, including her younger siblings. “Almost everyone was getting sick because we all sleep in the same house, so the parasites were passed on,” Jacklyne says. “Everyone was getting bitten by the same mosquitos.” This put a huge burden on Jacklyne’s mother, Liveness, who already had trouble providing for her children when they were healthy. “I was spending much time at the hospital with the children,” she says. “They weren’t in school.” 
 
Caring for children with malaria made life even harder for Liveness
                      Caring for children with malaria made life even harder for Jacklyne’s mother, Liveness.
 
Jacklyne, Liveness, and their family knew they could prevent malaria if they simply had mosquito nets to sleep under. But how would a family that had difficulty keeping themselves fed each day acquire such a luxury item?
 
Find the answer next week, when Jacklyne’s story concludes
 
Help a family suffering from malaria. $25 provides two mosquito nets