Real Stories about Real Kids
Supporting Bite Back makes a difference! Read these true stories about real kids in
Compassion’s program to see how Bite Back gives help and hope for a healthy, happy future, free from malaria.
Open Season on Mosquitoes
Ethiopia’s picturesque resort area near Lake Hawassa boasts hippos, storks, herons and kingfishers and other wildlife. Colobus and vervet monkeys roam at will, snatching food from unwary visitors.
The nearby town of Awassa is also home to a much less welcome form of wildlife. Mosquito infestations are rampant. Mosquito season is at its peak from July to January. Unsurprisingly, this is also the peak season for malaria.
Tamenech shares her small house with 10 family members. Their home’s proximity to the lake also places them in close proximity to thick clouds of mosquitoes. As a result, Tamenech’s children frequently battled malaria.
“It is such an awful scenario to watch your children get sick,” Tamenech says. “All of my children used to show similar symptoms when they had malaria. Severe headaches, lack of appetite, vomiting and fever were the common ones. This really weakened them. They couldn’t attend classes, which affected their education. There were even times when they nearly died.”
Every 45 Seconds
It is said that somewhere in Africa, a child dies every 45 seconds from malaria.
Malaria is prevalent throughout Ethiopia, especially in low-lying areas like Awassa. Although the disease is preventable and treatable, it can cause death if victims wait too long to seek medical help.
Malaria also poses serious consequences to children’s education. Children miss classes, and when they return, they are too weak and exhausted to concentrate.
Mobilized for Combat
Compassion is working to lower child mortality by providing thousands of Ethiopian families with insecticide-treated mosquito nets. Families with more than eight members are given three nets; families with fewer members are given two nets.
Tamenech’s son Temesgen, 16, attends the Compassion child development center in Awassa. The church-based center educates children and parents on malaria causes, prevention and treatment. Every three months, the center mobilizes residents to clean areas around Lake Hawassa prone to mosquito breeding. They fill ponds with soil, level areas that retain water, and remove thick, overgrown vegetation.
Thanks to malaria education and prevention efforts and the nets Compassion provides, the prevalence of malaria cases has declined dramatically in the last few years. At the health screening prior to the distribution of nets, the center reported 28 Compassion-assisted children had malaria. In a recent health screen, not one case of malaria was reported.
“After we received the insecticide-treated nets, none of my children ever got sick,” Tamenech reports. “There has been a significant change in our lives. We are now living a happy and a healthy life.”
Lake Hawassa is certainly beautiful. But as one Compassion child development center manager says, “Nothing is as delightful as seeing healthy children!”