In my community and across Africa, malaria is of big concern. Peace Corps volunteers work to teach others how to best protect themselves from contracting malaria and the proper and timely steps to take if they contract malaria. Some do their teaching in a more formal education setting, in Burkina referred to as a formation. For the most part, I really don’t like traditional education settings for this type of behavior change. I try to think of new and interesting ways to engage my community, catch their attention, and get them thinking and making mindful actions. In the past few months I have held two “Malaria Movie Nights” where I showed three short malaria films using a pocket projector, taught about ways to prevent malaria, proper treatment, gave out homemade anti-mosquito cream, and then showed a film (The Lion King the first night, Gladiator the second night).
The day following my first Malaria Movie Night, I held a demonstration in my local market on making anti-mosquito cream and instructed on other ways to protect against mosquitos. I worked closely with a female vendor that helped me translate everything clearly into local language. She did an amazing job and really held to draw a large crowd.
Following my anti-mosquito cream demonstration, I spent the day in my market hanging out under my mosquito net. I blasted music then was interwoven with malaria radio ads that I helped produce with another fellow volunteer. Hundreds of people stopped by to see the goofy white guy under the net. Once drawn in by my weirdness, I taught them how to properly hang different types of mosquito nets, when malaria carrying mosquitos start to bite (all mosquitos are not created equal), and told them about the up coming bed-net distribution facilitated by my local medical center.
My last malaria project was just finished this morning. Alongside my friend Patrice, I produced a song teaching about the dangers of malaria, instructing how to safeguard yourself, and encouraging those who think they have malaria to go directly to their local medical center for treatment. This isn’t your normal type of educational tool, but I think it is sure to grab the attention of my community and others in Burkina.