As part of World Malaria Day, my religion students learned about the tragedy of malaria in a Face to Faith video conference with malaria expert, Saleema Abdul Ghafur. She is the director of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance, an alliance of 49 African presidents and prime ministers. She works to raise money to defeat malaria. Today, she told us that Africa loses almost $12 billion dollars each year because of lost productivity from malaria deaths. She says that women and children suffer most and that their deaths lead to widespread poverty. Asked what motivated her work to eradicate malaria, Ms. Ghafur noted that service is a big part of the Muslim faith.
The conference included students from three other schools, one in England, another in Mexico, and one in Oklahoma. Saleema Abdul Ghafur skyped in from New York, our facilitator was in London, and the technical engineer who made sure we each had audio and video working, was in India. Quite a feat of technology.
The biggest problem for my students wasn't technology. It was their teacher who got confused by all the different time zones and thought the conference was supposed to start an hour earlier. The mistake meant that we had to leave the conference after only half an hour because of our bell schedule and my miscalculation.
Nonetheless, my students were able to hear Ms. Ghafur speak and even ask her a few questions. Most importantly, they learned about a huge health problem in another part of the world and how that problem also creates widespread poverty, and lowers productivity in many African countries. And in Ms. Ghafur, they saw a great role model, someone who is making a difference and believes in service.