April 25th marked World Malaria Day. Stomp Out Malaria is a Peace Corps Initiative, and regardless of our primary job responsibilities, we are expected to work on Malaria prevention and education. Here in Madagascar, many Malagasy feel they are immune because they have built up a tolerance from living in this country. This is in fact not true. They also believe Malaria can not be caught in the Highlands, which as well is not true, but less frequent.
We painted a mural earlier in the week on the fokontany building in Mantasoa illustrating the story of the transmission of Malaria. Of course being the white people in town, we naturally grew an audience, mostly kids. Duck, Duck, Goose became a teaching tool. And it became Parasy, Parasy, Moka (Flee, Flee, Mosquito). In our special Gasy we made a game of teaching Mosquitos are bad because they can be infected by Malaria.
The mural was unveiled during the Mantasoa World Malaria Event. Reporters from Tana came to cover the event. I remember arriving and there was essentially no one there. “This will be interesting…” But I remembered foton-gasy is the way of life around here. Watches are flashy and there is no need/understanding of punctuality.
An hour after the projected start time of the event, rolls of people came in. The schools took a break for the presentation and more people than I ever saw or thought lived in Mantasoa showed up. A ‘How to Make Neem Cream’ presentation was given–Neem Cream is a cream made from boiling the leaves of a plant here in Mada and mixing it with melted soap to make a cream used to repel mosquitos.
All in all a very successful event and the first of many to come in this country.