Mathias Esmann ’11
Woodrow Wilson School
Mosquito Net Distribution in Sierra Leone
I distributed 4,000 long lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets in the Malen chiefdom in Sierra Leone. In a team of eleven college students I walked to a total of 35 village with populations ranging from 26 to 850. In each village we held a town meeting with the town chief and our local partners: Red Cross ‘Malaria Keep Up’ volunteers, high school and college students from the chiefdom and representatives from the District Health Management Team. The meeting served to introduce our group and to educate the locals people about the importance and correct usage of the nets.
Our group then split into 4 teams and we visited each household in each village. We gave nets based on the number of verified sleeping spaces and reinforced the lessons from the town meeting. We put nets up in their homes to demonstrate how it can be hung from the ceiling to cover any part of a room, and how it must be tucked under a mattress/mat. Two weeks before and one week after the distribution, I was based at the UNICEF office in Freetown preparing and following up on the distribution while consulting with their team of experts.
The best part of the experience was definitely that we had a big impact on health in the chiefdom, a result we achieved with few resources. Our only major expense was the nets; every one on our team was a volunteer and we used our own resources for food and lodging, which in my case was funding from the Grand Challenges program and the Princeton Class of 1978 Foundation. The Malen chiefdom offered us housing as their contribution to the project. We even decided to walk the 110+ miles to and from the villages instead of renting a vehicle.
Unicef, Sierra Leone