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Malaria Prevention Programme in Ghana, West Africa, using volunteers skills and expertise to benefit the community

Malaria Prevention for the Kayaye Mothers of Agbogbloshie

Date Posted: 09/06/2016

Learn about Partner West Africa's continued Malaria Prevention Programme; combatting malaria and supporting the Kayaye women of Ghana's Agbogbloshie shanty town.

Partner West Africa (PWA) recently returned to Agbogbloshie; consecutively named one of the five most polluted and toxic places on earth, to extend our Malaria Prevention Programme in order to reach the 'Kayaye' women; the women who work each day carrying back-breaking loads balanced skilfully on their heads through the sprawling local food markets.
 
For many years Agbogbloshie has acted as a dumping ground for the international community's electronic waste... computers, televisions, and a range of industrial equipment which often contains hazardous materials. All shipped to Ghana under the guise of legitimate recyclable material, creating at Agbogbloshie a vast and seemingly endless landscape of smouldering plastic and dilapidated technology components, which has become the unlikely home of a community tens of thousands strong.
 
You know you're getting close to Agbogbloshie as you approach its famed lagoon, which is so polluted from the waste that washes through the city's sewer systems through the centre of Agbogbloshie, as the smell hits you from a kilometre away. The near stagnant gloopy water of the lagoon, in Ghana's tropical climate, is also, of course, a perfect breeding ground for mosquitos, the transmitters of one of Africa's deadliest yet preventable diseases; malaria.
 
Many past PWA volunteers will know PWA's friend and partner; Amina, a middle-aged lady living in on the edge of Agbogbloshie, who provides childcare to between 30 and 50 young children at her humble home each day. PWA works to support Amina, however we can, in her efforts to care for children who would otherwise accompany their mothers to work each day. Amina gives her time for nothing to care for the children while their mothers earn an income, hosting the children in her tiny two bedroom hut from Monday to Friday.
 
Most of the mothers that Amina helps are 'Kayaye', or 'head porters'. These women carry the loads of market shoppers in the city centre, in large pans balanced on their heads, for a desperately small fee. It is estimated that 7,787 kayayees, between the ages of 10 and 35 years, live in the capital city Accra. And the Kayayees are recognised as one of the most vulnerable groups in Ghana; usually female, often migrants to the city from the rural regions of Ghana, and living below the poverty line in conditions which leave them exposed. Hygiene and sanitation related illnesses, such as diarrhea, sexually transmitted disease, domestic violence, unplanned pregnancies, and back-street abortions, are all common struggles for these women. And as if life was not tough enough for the Kayaye, if they happen to be living in the shanty dwellings of Agbogbloshie, mosquitos are all but unavoidable, transmitting malaria which increases child mortality and often renders the women too ill to work and therefore too poor to secure medical treatment.
 
So to compliment Ghanaian government efforts in addressing the Kayaye's vulnerabilities, PWA sought to expand our Malaria Prevention Programme (MPP) from the children in PWA's local communities for a trial project with the children under Amina's care in Agbogbloshie, an approximate 50 minute drive from PWA's main compound. 
 
For this trial project, PWA provided hundreds of donated assorted malaria prevention resources - including wipes, bracelets, candles, and coils, all designed to repel mosquitos - and with the rainy season quickly approaching, and the subsequent numbers of mosquitos increasing, the team designed a series of educational workshops that would be accessible and empower the Kayaye women to protect their families.
  
On the day it is fair to say the team had a few challenges: finding a suitable location to work at Agbogbloshie was certainly one... several sites that had been planned for were ruled out at the last moment, due to the unbearable inside temperature and one clash of bookings, but eventually a large open canvas awning, big enough to deliver our programme and cool enough to shelter from the raging midday sun, was identified and agreed upon! Despite having to pause on several occasions to let curious motorcyclists pass, as they wove between the tin shacks and aluminium panelled homes in the narrow streets our team were filling, we delivered a session to 40 to 50 mothers and their children over several hours. 
 
PWA volunteers - Danique, Juliet, and Olivia - gladly helped entertain the children during the presentations so as mums could pay close attention, learning what malaria is, how they become infected with it, and how they can avoid infection in future, and PWA Chris captured and recorded the event on camera. 
 
Once the learning was done and the team satisfied the women were better prepared, PWA's Projects Manager, Inusah Amidu, skilfully controlled the chaos associated with distributing the extremely popular array of malaria prevention resources to the group, reminding the team of a last minute shopping dash on Christmas Eve! The team also of course left a supply or resources with Amina for her use with the children in future.
  
At the end of a long and successful trial event, 50 families were better protected against at least one of the major threats to their lives and well being. And PWA will return to deliver additional events at Agbogbloshie and for the Kayaye women in future, as we push the MPP project forwards and fund raise and place more volunteers to carry out this important and rewarding work.
 
In the next phases of our MPP project we hope to have raised the funding and resources to extend the programme as well as improve it by offering repellent-embedded mosquito nets to as many mothers and parents in as many communities as possible, and we are inviting applications from any potential volunteers, or donations from any potential supporters, who would like to help us to achieve this projects valuable aims and objectives.
 
If you would like to donate or volunteer to help combat malaria in Ghana, then please contact a member of our team or view our Malaria Prevention Programme project for more information. 
 
As always, we would like to say a huge thank you to all our volunteers, donors and of course Amina and the Kayaye mothers of Agbogbloshie!
Author: Partner West Africa

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