Dear friends and family... and total strangers who read my blog,
I got to Kaolack just this morning, and I have a whole lot to write about. It's been a good couple of weeks, maybe some of my happiest days so far in Senegal. And there was this one guy in a purple cowboy hat -- I have pretty good story to tell you about him. But I want to take a break from the usual tone of this blog to shamelessly, without the slightest bit of guilt, ask you for money.
Here are the basics. I'm raising money to provide everyone in my village and in the three tiny villages next to mine with mosquito nets. Each mosquito net costs $5. My goal is to be able to bring around 1,200 nets to my area, which should be enough to cover every single bed.
Already interested in helping me out?
I think probably you'd all agree that saving lives is, generally speaking, a good thing to be able to spend your money on. And a quick internet search or a perusal of the Against Malaria website will tell you that malaria is the number one killer of children and pregnant women in the world, that one to three million people will die of malaria this year, and that the children who will die today from this disease would fill seven jumbo jets. You'd also quickly discover that malaria is an entirely curable, entirely treatable disease. But all that means is that if you or I got malaria, we'd be fine. For almost all of the victims of malaria, however, prevention and treatment are just out of reach. The decision is between being able to eat for a week and being able to purchase a mosquito net. The people I live with don't have $5 to save their own lives, but I know you do.
Anyway, you know all these things already. So I wanted to tell you a little about my own experience with malaria.
So far, no one I know has ever died of malaria. The rainy season is just just just starting here in Ndiago. After the first heavy rain, I've been told, the mosquitoes will come out. There are lots of ways to try to prevent malaria, and we're making use of all of them in my area. After my causerie the other week, the women are making and selling neem lotion, a natural anti-bug lotion made of soap, cooking oil, water, and the leaves of the neem tree. Our first big set-setal, when everyone in the village sweeps up all the trash in their compounds and in the public areas and burns it, is Monday. We'll be repeating this task every two weeks to keep the malaria population under control. So I've done everything I can, at this point.
That's pretty much what's killing me. With my limited Wolof and my limited resources, I'm spent. And I know it's just not enough. Ever since I got to site, I've been feeling a gnawing anxiety about the advent of the rainy season. Part of me is excited, because soon the harvest will come and we'll have more food and the malnutrition rate in the villages around me will drop from its current level of 40%, and I'll sleep better. But the thing bringing on this wealth -- the rain -- is also bringing misery.
So spend a few dollars and save a life or two. Don't forget you're also buying me a small reprieve from intense anxiety. Everyone will be sleeping a little better.
Other blog posts to follow soon. Thank you so much for reading and responding, here and in emails to me. I'll get to them as soon as I can.
Love and guts,