Monday 4 March 2013

Every parent feels the same pain

I've just sat and watched Mary and Martha on BBC catch-up and I can't begin to recommend it to you. It is a powerful and poignant watch.

I sat and wept as I watched the grief of those parents who lost their children to malaria and because they are western parents just like me I could really relate to their sorrow and imagined how I would feel if I lost one of my children, my heart broke for them. I know everyone back home would consider it a tragedy and there would be great mourning. Then as I sat there and reflected on that it struck me that just because parents in Africa are losing their children to malaria everyday does not make it any different, any less sad. We are all parents who love our children and seek the best for them and it hurts each one of us the same when we lose a child.

Malaria is a preventable disease, very simple measures can stop children dying of malaria. Put a quality insecticide treated net over the child's bed and you are potentially saving their life and how much does each one of these nets cost? You can get a decent net for less than $5, not a lot is it? The charity Malaria No More says it can purchase, transport and safely install a net for £5, I'd say that's value for money.

I'm sat here with tears streaming down my face and I'm pretty sure this is not a coherent entry on my blog but it is a heartfelt one. Every child deserves to live or as Save the Children would say 'no child is born to die', no matter what country that child is born in. They should all live and be able to fulfil their potential -

That could be their dream to be a farmer like their mother...

Or their dream to be a nurse, a teacher or a mother themselves.... these are all good valid dreams that they should have the opportunity to live out.

Next week when Comic Relief ask you to give money please think about the children dying needlessly of malaria and give generously. Or if like me you feel compelled to act now then why not check out Malaria No More, there is real progress being made in the fight against malaria, the film Mary and Martha ended with a statement saying 'we could see the end of malaria in our lifetime' - wouldn't that be out of this world?

Did you know that at the moment malaria kills nearly 2 million people per year, 90% of these people will be living in sub-Saharan Africa, places just like Ethiopia where I travelled to last year. Even though that death figure is still horrifyingly high it has been reduced by 26% globally since 2000, over 1 million children's lives have been saved in Africa. The progress has been pushed forward as many governments have recognised malaria as a priority and since 2000 international funding has risen from less than $100 million to almost $1.84 billion in 2012 – a 17 fold increase.

This year our government in the UK will meet and agree what figure they will be giving to the Global Fund in the fight against malaria, I pray they make the right decision and choose life for all, not riches for some and poverty and death for others.

I'd urge you to watch Mary and Martha, why not think about gathering a group of friends and showing it or an evening at Church and see what you can all come up with to help fund some nets. Every small donation we make adds up and makes a real difference to those living in countries where the common mosquito is a killer as it is carrying the malaria parasite.

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