Today, she described a double tragedy, one to the victims of malaria and one to the survivors. She said that women and children suffer most—over 650,000 die each year—and that their deaths lead to widespread poverty. She noted that Africa loses almost $12 billion dollars each year because of lost productivity from malaria deaths. Asked what motivated her work to eradicate malaria, Ms. Ghafur said 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. Still, things can go wrong. For example, we got confused by the different time zones and had to leave the conference early.
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 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.