Editor’s note: Niki Clark is an American Red Cross employee who traveled to Malawi recently to participate in the Measles & Rubella Initiative. These are the stories she’s heard. Read more about the work here.
In 2010, a severe measles outbreak in Malawi resulted in 134,000 cases and more than 300 deaths. Ethel Chisale, 26, was one of those cases, along with six other members in her community, two of them pregnant woman. Fortunately none of those cases were fatal, but it now gives her personal insight as a Red Cross volunteer spreading awareness around the current measles campaign. As a volunteer, she goes from home to home telling families about the upcoming measles campaign, using her own story to emphasize the importance of vaccines.
“I am motivated to prevent others from experiencing the same thing I did. As much as I suffered, I am convinced it is entirely preventable, so I am actively involved.”
In the district of Mchingi in Malawi, she tells Marita Positain, 42–whose two children, Letira, 5 and Proffesor, 1 are both vaccination ages–about her story and convinces her to have them vaccinated. “I have suffered,” Chisale says. “I volunteer because I don’t want others to have to go through the same thing. I am a living testimony to the importance of vaccines.”
Over the next week, Malawi will immunize more than 2.5 million kids against measles.
You can help. Learn how to get involved by visiting the M&RI site.