Sep 19, 2014
By: James Porter, Associate Director, External Relations
I recently travelled to Africa for the first time on assignment for the END Fund. My destination? Burundi – a country I will never forget.
As one of the poorest countries in the world, one might not believe that success could be had in controlling neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), which are diseases of poverty. However, in spite of some clear barriers – unclean water, lack of sanitation, and food insecurity – Burundi is an example of the difference private philanthropy can make in the lives of people. And I was there with a video crew to capture that success story.
It was evident in Alice, who told us how when her children get treatment for ‘snakes in the belly’ that she can really see the difference as their appetites return and they no longer suffer. She implored us to “continue having the hearts of loving people.”
It was evident at the school we visited, where I saw my first mass drug administration (MDA). The children washed their hands, were measured to see how many pills they would get, and then took the pills in front of the health workers. It only took less than a minute for each child. A teacher later said that after treatment “they pay attention, they study, they follow, and they progress.”
It was evident in Petronie, who learned how to take preventative measures to ensure her children didn’t get “snakes in the belly.” As she served food to children from the village she told us, “I have changed my ways of cooking. With the vegetables, I wash them, I cover them. When I give the food to the children, I wash the children’s hands with soap.”
It was incredible to see first-hand how such simple intervention can change and even save people’s lives. I hope to meet more people like Alice and Petronie as the END Fund continues ending the neglect.
Stay tuned for the upcoming release of the video – Burundi: The Transformational Power of Giving.
Thanks to the Burundi Ministry of Public Health and the Fight Against AIDS, Talking Eyes Media, and Jessica Dimmock for their work on this video project.