Friday, April 25, 2008

World Malaria Day - April 25th

April 25th is World Malaria Day. How much do you know about Malaria?

Each year, approximately 50 million women living in malaria-endemic countries throughout the world become pregnant, of whom over half live in tropical areas of Africa with intense transmission of Plasmodium falciparum. An estimated 10,000 of these women and 200,000 of their infants die as a result of malaria infection during pregnancy, and severe malarial anaemia contributes to more than half of these deaths.

According to the WHO (World Health Organization) this map shows the risk areas for Malaria transmission.

Malaria is a cause close to my heart because in October 2006, while in Niger, I contracted Dengue Fever, which is also mosquito born and similar to malaria in many ways. We were out visiting villages about a 5 hour drive from the capital city and volunteering at projects for a few days to check out the work. We did wear long pants/skirts and use mosquito repellant all day. We also slept under mosquito nets every night of our entire trip. The night that the dengue fever symptoms really hit, this is where I was sleeping

I was up all night with a fever and aches. I couldn't sleep because the muscle and bone aches were so bad that I had to shift position every 10 minutes. So i watched the moon track across the sky, making it unbelievably bright out, and listened to the cacaphony of camels, donkeys and roosters. I didnt know why I felt so awful. The next day was worse with a high fever, vomiting and lots of muscle and bone pain. I had a few more days of this in Niger, then spent a few lovely days in a Paris hospital before heading home. It is a 16day test apparently to confirm Dengue, so it was only once I was back in Canada that they truly confirmed what they had suspected in Paris as Dengue.

We took all the precautions we could, and yet it only takes one bite. We were lucky and had not only good immune systems to limit the fever and effect on my body, but we had repellant and mosquito nets.

I think of all the people there that I interacted with who have neither and yet live there among the mosquitos year round. They are the truly vulnerable.

Dengue Info:
The virus is contracted from the bite of a striped Aedes aegypti mosquito that has previously bitten an infected person. The mosquito flourishes during rainy seasons but can breed in water-filled flower pots, plastic bags, and cans year-round. One mosquito bite can inflict the disease.

Dengue starts with chills, headache, pain upon moving the eyes, and low backache. Painful aching in the legs and joints occurs during the first hours of illness. The temperature rises quickly as high as 104° F (40° C), with relative low heart rate and low blood pressure.

There is currently no vaccine available for dengue fever.

How do you make a difference?
Well, knowledge is your first step.
You can protect yourself from mosquito born infection by wearing long pants and long sleeves. For personal protection, use mosquito repellant sprays that contain DEET when visiting places where malaria or dengue is endemic. Limiting exposure to mosquitoes by avoiding standing water. Malaria mosquitos tend to be night-time biters while Dengue mosquitos are daytime biters.

One of the projects that our team does in Niger is to provide mosquito nets to the people in villages we target and do classes on malaria prevention. If you want to help us with that, you can donate to our work special and we can continue to distribute nets to curb the spread of malaria. Here are some other ways you can donate for nets.

Give treated Mosquito nets via Samaritan's Purse:

Give treated Mosquito nets via Against Malaria Group:

Give treated Mosquito nets via Nothing but Nets: (you can play a game and send free nets TODAY ONLY too!)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Life is careening by at top speed

Hi there. Sorry my posts have been sporadic the last little while, but life has been so busy, with unexpected twists, breakneck turns and more than our share of paperwork. I'll try to give you an update :)

Life in Canada:
As some of you know, my Grandmother had slowly been getting worse these last few years. A few weeks ago she went into the hospital when she stopped eating and drinking. We got the call one Tuesday night while out of town that they didnt think she would make the night. We headed home and I went to the hospital until 2am. Over the next few days we took shifts (mom dad and I) at the hospital so that someone was with her 24/7 as she went through her last days. Chad and Michelle (my brother and sister from Denver) arrived Friday morning and saw Grandma at 7:30 as soon as they arrived in town. They got to say their goodbyes and love. Grandma passed away at 9:00 am on March 28th. We are thankful it was mom's turn to be with her and thus mother and daughter were together in the last minutes.
It was actually a really amazing week. In spending so many hours at a time with grandma I got to experience a rare gift in walking with someone through their last minutes and days of life and into death. How raw death was when grandma looked so awful and emaciated, and yet i could give her comfort and talk with her and make her smile. I have a lot of respect for people who work in pallative care. What a gift to be tender to people who have seen and experienced so much and stand on the brink of death, and not with the thrill of the emergency room or unexpected turn of events, but through the slow ticking of time as their body wears down and slowly ceases to function. Its not glamourous. I also had lots of time, when it was quiet and just me and grandma, to pray for her, pray over her, and read to her. I'm also thankful that we were here still and not in Niger and that we could be together as a family. Obviously it made for a very long week with travel, funeral etc. Our planned trip to Denver was also postponed since she passed away on the day we were supposed to leave. We are hoping we can make up this trip the first week of May if it all possible. But also I wouldnt trade the insight or lessons of that week for anything.
My Grandma.

The same day we celebrated life and death. You see, the 28th was the day my Grandma died, but also the 2nd birthday of my beautiful little girl. I can rememeber so clearly that it was right on her first birthday that we started to fall in love with Arielle and help care for her and slowly make the steps needed to adopt her. How far we have come in a year,and how much we have all been through while growing as a family. She is a happy child who loves to talk, play with her brother and boss us around. Yes, this originally timid and fearful child has found her voice and lets us know it! She brings us such joy now.

Bennett also continues to grow into quite the little man and makes my laugh so much!

Bennett and Poppa hanging out and washing the car together

We also got to spend almost 2 weeks with our beloved Sanka. (Our 4 year old chocolate lab that we gave to friends of our who take great care of him)There is a whole post on this dog and why we had to give him up and loving him - you can read it here:

My friend had a beautiful baby girl on the 27th so we were taking care of Sanka and then kept him a little longer than planned after everything that happened and life got crazy. We miss him and love spending time with him!

Bennett and Sanka throwing rocks and playing like this for over an hour on one glorious afternoon by the river.

Sanka LOVES the water and you can see the joy on his face!

Niger update:
As many of you know, we received clearance to leave for Niger in May. Yaaayy!! We are in the process of trying to figure out a date which is much harder than we originally thought due to a few things that are outside of our control. Please pray for us as we try to make this decision, to leave well and not rush, but also hurry to join our new team there. We have lots to do in these next 4-5 weeks too! Visas, last vaccinations, international drivers permits, purchases, packing, not to mention finishing our taxes and the major reno work we are doing on the rental unit we own before the new renters move in May 1. Yikes. We need some major stamina and good organization to get through it all, especially with two highly energetic toddlers to care for at the same time!

Also, we purchased our vehicle for the field in Niger! We were so thankful to find a fantastic used Landcruiser out of Japan that will be perfect and also a really good use of Gods money by saving over $10,000 by buying used. Paul is a mechanic so we have no worries! We are so thankful for all of you who partnered with us in this purchase and know it makes a major impact on our ability to do our work in villages and around Niger.

So there you go! Thank you for all your encouragement. We will let you know when we have a date!

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008


So I spent the last few days trying to figure out that murky world of blog subscribing and testing it. I think it works! So now you can subscribe to my blog, thus receiving emails when I add something new instead of checking it out compulsively every hour while waiting for me to have an inspirational moment and write a new post!! Think of all the time you could save! See the link on the top right? Enter your email address and it will send you an email synopsis when there is a new reason to visit! Never again will you have to feel the guilt of forgetting for a month and then having 12 posts to catch up on! So go ahead.....subscribe! You can do it!