Spreading Malaria Awareness from Madagascar to NYC!

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Photo Credit: Wendy Seuram. Students from NYC during a fundraiser to support efforts to fight Malaria in Africa.

Written by: Liz Toomey, Malaria Coordinator

At the end of World Malaria Month I received an intriguing email from Teneasha Pierson, current Communications and Media Manager  with Stomp Out Malaria in Africa.  She connected me to Wendy Seuram, a 3rd grade teacher at PSMS34 on the Lower East Side of Manhattan,  who was teaching her students about malaria in Africa.  Wendy had stumbled upon the stompoutmalaria.org  website during her search for malaria information, and Peace Corps Madagascar’s ‘Soa and the Moka’  book caught her eye.  ‘Soa and the Moka’ is a children’s book about malaria that was written, illustrated, and published by 2 RPCV’s (2012-2014), Raegan and Patrick Spencer.

I immediately emailed Wendy  an English digital version of the book, and inquired more about what her class had been studying so far in terms of malaria.

“My class studies Africa every year and we woMatia-cover-478x459rk closely with Robin Crespo who designs Moskeeto Armor (http://www.codepurpleevent.com/) to protect against malaria. I used the electronic copy of your book with the kids and they loved it! Some kids said that they learned so much about Malaria just by the read aloud of the book”, explained Wendy. “

After a few more exchanges we arranged a skype presentation about Malaria in Madagascar, and I called into the NYC classroom within the week.

These third graders were full of questions about malaria, IRS, and of course, Mosquitos!  I was stumped more than once by their inquiries.

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Photo credit: Wendy Seuraum.

“How fast and how far can mosquitoes fly? How much blood can they drink? How long do they live? How many times can  you get malaria?”

The student’s  questions were endless.

Their thirst for malaria knowledge was insatiable, and they enjoyed learning about Madagascar and Malagasy culture as well.

“Malagasy people eat rice for breakfast??”.  This fact was particularly difficult to fathom.

While it is imperative to maintain and continue to develop interventions on the ground in malaria countries; educating youth abroad about the importance of working to eliminate malaria is critical as well.   These 3rd graders from NYC are the future, and I am predicting more than one future Peace Corps Volunteer will come from this group.

In a follow up email Wendy  thanked Peace Corps for taking the time to reach out to her students.

“Thanks so much for helping my students to see how others are making a difference worldwide and for making learning matter to our children.”

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Photo credit: Wendy Seuram