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Recognising the signs of malaria

Kelezo Nganga lost her first son to malaria. Her second son was saved from the same fate with support from Christian Aid partner the Zambian Anglican Council (ZAC).

Inspired by their work on malaria, Kelezo became a community health volunteer, and now helps to prevent and treat malaria in her community of Lui River.

Powerless

Kelezo’s son, Denny, died in 2002 when he was just six years old. Like many others, Kelezo failed to recognise the symptoms of malaria. Denny was given ordinary medicine in order to treat his illness, which, unsurprisingly, was powerless against the might of malaria.

When Denny failed to show any sign of recovery, Kelezo took her son to the rural health centre. Here they identified his condition, but it was too late. Denny died shortly after, just two days after falling ill.

‘Denny died of malaria because we were ignorant of the signs,’ says Kelezo.

Mwananyambe Mwangala with community members of Lui River

Kelezo’s fellow volunteer, Mwananyambe Mwangala, with community members of Lui River. She explains the signs and symptoms of malaria and examines the suitability of a mosquito net. Photos by Kelezo Nganga.

From heartbreak to hope

Thanks to ZAC and the work of the health volunteers, it was a different story when her second son, Eric, contracted the disease.

This time Kelezo was able to identify the symptoms of malaria - such as headache, vomiting and diarrhoea - and take him to the clinic for treatment. Eric quickly recovered and has not suffered from malaria since.

Kelezo’s story is one of heartbreak, loss and hope for the future. Since losing a son to malaria, she devotes her time to ensuring other mothers don’t suffer the same loss.

Her tragic experience inspired her to become one of the Zambian Anglican Council’s 100 malaria control agents.

She says, ‘I hope to carry out this duty as far as I can, to help my community.’

Saving lives

Every day volunteers like Kelezo work to educate the community of Lui River on simple precautions - such as the importance of sleeping under nets - as well as conducting Rapid Diagnostic Testing and referring those with malaria to the clinic for treatment. This work is saving lives.

Kelezo says, ‘I am very happy that the children under five in my community are able to survive malaria [thanks to my contribution] and to me it is a great achievement.’

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Malaria control agents discover some damage to a mosquito net

Volunteer Kelezo captures her colleagues at work.

In pictures