Weekly Awesome Malawi: Bike-Out-Malaria

Written by: Kaylee Beck, Education Volunteer 2013-2015

World Malaria Month may be in April, but that doesn’t stop Peace Corps volunteers in Malawi from devoting one November week to Stomping Out Malaria. Six volunteers from the health and education sectors, as well as their local counterparts, cycled 50km to eight primary schools along the northern lakeshore of Malawi November 17-21, 2014, reaching 840 students, 33 teachers, and 2 Primary Education Advisors with messages of malaria prevention and awareness.

Visiting two primary schools per day, the volunteers divided Standards 7 & 8 into groups to do hands-on activities. For an English activity, students created giant picture books, telling the story of Mrs. Mosquito and how the disease spreads in our communities. As a biology lesson, a group traced the human body and inside diagramed the parasite life-cycle. A session on bednet care and repair kept a group of students busy sewing bednet holes and chatting about prevention and treatment, contributing to lessons on art and life-skills. A final group participated in a Grassroots Soccer Skillz intervention that easily combined PE and malaria awareness. The schools were left with the finished projects to continue educating fellow learners and community members. Pre and post-tests were administered before and after the activities; volunteers will revisit the schools again in the coming months to see how the resources are being used, if the messages have been spread to younger grade levels, and if bed net usage has been increased.

PCV participants Amie Pendleton-Knoll (coordinator), Jhoana Juen, Megan Rossi, Kay Klumpyan, Brooke Mancuso, and Kaylee Beck, as well as their local counterparts, may have gotten caught in rainstorms and endured bicycle mishaps on the ride, but it didn’t tarnish the experience and exhilaration of spreading an important message to eager-to-learn youths. In a country where school-absenteeism is common because of malaria, primary school students are an important target group to reach. Fighting malaria is a serious job to undertake, but volunteers along the shores of Lake Malawi were able to have some fun on their bikes empowering the next generation of Stompers.