It seems like ages ago, in actuality it was February 2013, I attended Malaria Boot Camp in Thies, Senegal. When I went I had no idea what to expect. What I did know was that I wanted to be highly involved in malaria prevention work here in Malawi. After all, Malawi suffers a great deal from this tiny parasite.
The Boot Camp in Senegal was invaluable. I felt like I learned EVERYTHING about malaria, but directly from other volunteers, specifically, how they implemented Stomp in their respective countries. One thing that became immediately clear was stomping out malaria in Malawi was not something I could do as a single volunteer. I needed a team, a collection of volunteers with other backgrounds that would come together and give different perspectives. This was a critical piece.
With support from the Peace Corps Malawi Office, Rachel Ricciardi and Dan Marthey were able to attend the Senegal Boot Camp in the same year. Slowly, we started building our program together. On October 1, 2013 the whole Peace Corps Office came together to meet specifically about how we envisioned Stomp in Malawi. This solidarity pushed the program forward even more.
Peace Corps Malawi simultaneously began building partnerships with Malawi’s Ministry of Health and President’s Malaria Initiative. This was an essential component to ensuring Peace Corps programs were in line with the priorities of the Malawian government and implementing partners.
Swearing in as a Response Malaria Coordinator Volunteer on April 2, 2014 added further momentum to our program. We began discussions of a strategic plan for Stomp Malawi. We discussed the role of each malaria volunteer and how we could get our entire volunteer community directly involved.
Thanks to the help of Madagascar and Rwanda in addition to many other STOMP countries, we created a three day intensive mini boot camp to better train our Stomp Malawi Team. July 2014 came around as quick as ever. I was nervous about implementing the mini boot camp. Thankfully with help from the malaria team (Dan Marthey, Rachel Ricciardi, Amie Pendleton-Knoll) and other volunteers we pulled off a successful, informative boot camp.
Stomp Malawi has come a long way from February 2013. Our Team of Peace Corps staff and ten volunteers throughout the country has helped to increase the number of projects to fight malaria in each and every volunteer community. We still have a long way to go, but I believe we’re on the right track!