By: Eric Liswaniso, Programs Manager, Partners for a Malaria-Free Zambia Project, Malaria Partners Zambia
Malaria work is fulfilling work. Every Rotarian volunteer we’ve worked with on the Partners for a Malaria-Free Zambia project leaves impacted in one way or another. For me, it’s fulfilling to be able to give Rotarians and Rotaractors an opportunity to witness firsthand, the impact this work is yielding in the communities we serve.
The Rotaract Club of Lusaka is one of the clubs that has been very supportive of our work. Their enthusiastic and energetic members have volunteered to support our trainings, data management activities, and several other interventions. Eager to learn, they ask a lot of questions, and we as the project team do our best to create an atmosphere of learning by encouraging close engagement between the volunteers and the experts we work with. This helps Rotarians and Rotaractors gain greater perspective into the ins and outs of the fight to eliminate malaria. We also educate the volunteers on Rotary’s extensive malaria elimination efforts and the many opportunities for collaboration with Rotary clubs across the globe and funding for malaria work.
The leadership of the Rotaract Club of Lusaka through their President Tasha Chongo took us to task on the latter, having learnt about Malaria Partners International’s small grants program. They wanted to know how they could get involved in the fight and contribute their youthful energy and zeal to ending a scourge that every Zambian is all too familiar with. We responded by linking them to health experts in the malaria space who helped them identify opportunities for collaboration and support within the malaria elimination program. This long consultative process culminated into what is the now dubbed the Rotaractors in Action Against Malaria Project – RotarACTION.
Armed with information, the young Rotaractors crafted an ambitious proposal to embark on a data management project intended to help resolve data issues identified in one of the PMFZ-supported districts through data audits, mentorship and provision of onsite technical support to the community health workers and health center staff. This USD$13, 000 project would also pilot the introduction of standardized registers for use by the health facilities in Luano district, with a view to ignite the rolling out of the same countrywide. The Rotaractors understand the importance of accurate and reliable data to effective decision making.
Partnership is in our name for a reason. That is why Malaria Partners International went a step further than just financing the work. They linked the Zambian Rotaractors to like-minded young people in the United States and Germany. The Interact Club of St. Isabela in Santa Rosa California have since raised up to USD$2, 000 towards the work in Luano district with the Rotaractors of District 18 in Germany also working towards a significant contribution to the work.
The work has begun in earnest with sensitization activities such as the Malaria Mondays where the club puts out important malaria awareness information through their social media to educate the public about malaria.
As someone whose days are spent grappling with how we can combat malaria in our beloved country, I am thrilled about the prospects of working with the Rotaract Club of Lusaka in this fight. And I hope this step taken by the club will spur others on to apply for funds to strengthen malaria elimination efforts in Zambia. I’ll be back soon with results of this project, but for now I’m off to participate in RotarACTION!