Aquaculture Volunteer Talks About How She Got Involved with Malaria Control

Why did I sign up to assist in researching net longevity for PMI/USAID? Well, I love people and I love the Zambian culture. It was that simple. Since it was a project that had to do with preventative measures for the #1 killing disease in the country, I felt it was a double whammy. I have lived in a rural village for nearly two years and there is yet to be a day that goes by where I am not surprised by something. Whether it is the turtle that appears outside my door, my Zambian brother making his own shoe wax with my candle scraps, or my Yataata fooling around with his radio that manages to play out of four disheveled pieces of which none are properly connected to the other, and of which are hanging on by a measly wire that looks like a cat gnawed on it.
Once or twice a week I eat with my Zambian family and something that has always shocked me is how miraculously clean their cooking pots are. These pots are so clean they give you and spick and span reflection of yourself. You can see the sparkle in your teeth, twinkle in your eye, dirt in your hair, reflection of yourself. It is unbelievable. Zambians do not only take pride in their Chopolopolo football team; they also take pride in their cooking pots. Yet there is one particular pot that is not as clean as all the rest. One pot that shows the fire’s flames and the charcoals scars. This is the pot that they cook their staple food out of, the shima pot. Shima is made out of maize powder and is eaten with every meal. Sometimes a meal is only one relish but as long as shima is made, it’s a meal.
Now that I have completed the first portion of the PMI Net Longevity Study, I would like to apply the cooking pot observation to the mosquito nets. Out of 25 households I was able to go inside of 21 of them and study the mosquito nets, in their current state, hanging above the bed. I think I can safely eliminate the chances that the mosquito net was being pulled out of its bag for the first time, just to show me, pretending they had used it for the last year. There was no happy medium in the appearance and/or destruction of these mosquito nets, much like their cooking pots. Some were beautiful, white as snow, and flawless. While others were absolutely destroyed; brown, whole sections missing, and holes the size of my fist. Luckily, just like the pots, more nets were in the healthy and appealing state with only a few bad apples. Rarely did I come across a net with just a few small holes.
Just another surprise.
Leigh Prezkop, Rural Aquaculture Promotion Volunteer, 2010-2012

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