Over the past ten days I have been in Lilongwe working with other partners on proposals to bring change in many areas including malaria and palliative care, as well as the usual discussions of nutrition and poverty. We discussed the misuse of mosquito nets and as we thought, we had seen and knew what nets were always being for used for – fishing and protecting the gardens from goats and birds!
Yesterday I had the privilege of visiting a village just outside Lilongwe, not an area I would know or have visited before and probably will never again. The normal track down to the small village was as we all expected rough – and areas were washed away with the recent rains. We arrived at the cluster of little mud houses. They greeted us warmly but our translator had to explain that due to flights, the usual customary hospitality had to be forgone to allow us to see the houses and rush away.
We entered a two-room mud and stick structure with no windows, light coming through the spaces between the poorly thatched roof and the walls. We asked the grandmother, who was the owner of the house, if she used her mosquito net and she said she did most nights. We saw no evidence of how she could hang it so we asked her to demonstrate. The lady lay down on her reed mat and putting a thin piece of chitenge (colourful locally made material) she then pulled the net over her. Why did she and the children do this, it’s not how you use a mosi net! Then we realized she was so poor she didn't have a blanket for herself or her grandchildren.
Our assumption was that most, if not all, families would have some sort of blanket to keep them warm and the misuse would not be out of necessity to keep warm.
Having read my blog, please pray for the work we do in trying to break the grasp of poverty in projects and programmes to bring lasting change to the impoverished in Malawi and throughout the world. For those working with these communities that we continue to have compassion as Christ would have and share the love of God through what we do. Pray also for journeying mercies as we travel around Malawi and Zambia as the road conditions especially around Livingstonia remain hazardous.
Lyn Dowds serves in Livingstonia, Malawi with the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian and is engaged in medical mission and community development work.