April 25 is World Malaria Day, an occasion to highlight the ongoing effort to fight and eradicate malaria. Malaria is a disease spread by mosquitoes. It causes severe flu-like symptoms, and can lead to death if untreated. Some of our sites are in areas where malaria is prevalent. We work with our sites to prevent malaria by providing mosquito nets and preventative medication. Sponsored children are able to receive crucial medical care for the treatment of this serious disease.
Kate, our Creative Specialist, contracted malaria while working in Ghana, Africa. Read about her experience that inspired her to sponsor a child through Chalice:
“In 2013, I had just turned 22. I had also just graduated from York University, with a degree in Film Production. The ink was barely dry on my diploma, and I found myself in Tamale, Ghana, on an internship. It was supposed to be a communications job, but when I got there, they saw my camera. At the time, I was not a trained photographer, but my Nikon looked professional enough to them, and photographer soon became my primary role.
One organization in our membership group was just launching a new project with some of the poorest households in northern Ghana, which is the most impoverished and underdeveloped region of the country. They had no photos for their marketing materials or reports, so off I went, on the back of a motorbike, to rural hospitals, schools, and homes.
There’s a town way up in the northwest called Wa. Going to Wa is well known to be a harrowing journey. The roads are not just unpaved, but require a Land Cruiser to even think about driving on them. Our trip kept getting delayed, as it took only the smallest detail to derail the whole plan. My anticipation was mounting, and I was thrilled when we finally had a date for it to happen.
The morning before we left, I woke up not feeling well. I hoped it was dehydration, so I drank some juice, and set off for the 45 minute walk to Mass. I lurched and staggered up the road, and realized I couldn’t make it. Determined that I was not sick, I rested in bed for the day.
I awoke the next morning faring no better. I started telling my roommates that I was going to the hospital to be tested for malaria, and started asking about where to go. I realized in all my frenzy, I was actually feeling better. Maybe breakfast had kicked in, I reasoned. I felt good enough to go. So I went to Wa, not saying anything to my companions about the scare.
The roads were as atrocious as I’d been promised, but I was otherwise fine. The next day, however, the nausea was back. I later learned this is a common aspect of malaria – symptoms come in waves. Later, I felt well enough to work , only to arrive at the site to be ushered to a chair or the back of a truck to curl into a ball while my colleagues did their jobs.
One of the days, they dropped me off at a guest house run by a Catholic convent. The sisters let me stay for the afternoon, free of charge. I was so grateful for their generosity. Through my stubbornness, I had not just become a burden to my colleagues, but was imposing on these kind and busy Sisters. After about three days of this pattern, my colleagues took me to a doctor for malaria treatment.
When I returned to Canada a few months later, I landed a full time job in my chosen field, film making. I knew I finally had sufficient means to start sponsoring a child through Chalice. My parents had always sponsored at least one child. To me, it was just a matter of course that I would sponsor someday too.
I learned that Chalice has a sponsor site in Wa, as I probably would have observed if I hadn’t been quite so… hindered. Wa’s dry climate and unpredictable rains create frequent water shortages. Sustaining small-scale farms is precarious, and most educated youth move to the prospering southern regions. Retaining teachers is a constant challenge. Hepatitis B is a pervasive issue.
Those were all reasons to sponsor a child in Wa. But as I was on Chalice’s website, a smile jumped out at me. Her name is Geraldina, and at the time, she was 12 years old. And what did she want to be? A nurse, just like the ones who cared for me when I was vulnerable.
That is my story of why I sponsored a child. There are thousands, tens of thousands more. Over the years, Chalice staff have heard hundreds of reasons of why sponsors chose that child. Some felt strangely compelled. Some happened to pick up the folder of a child with their own name, or the name of a deceased relative. Some see a child who wants to have their profession when they grow up, or have the same hobbies as their own children. I have sponsored Geraldina for 3 years now, and I hope one day she can be among the ranks of those kind and compassionate nurses.”