Inside Twizere Ntakaziraho’s home, it is dark and incredibly warm – it is probably over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. It is a hot summer day at Nakivale Refugee Settlement in south west Uganda, and the rainy season is about to begin. The heat does not seem to faze Twizere, as she adjusts a striking white head scarf. We sit with her, not yet realizing that she’s cradling her baby on her back with a pink and white checkered blanket. She is keeping her close, because she’s worried she has malaria.
“She woke up with a fever this morning,” she says. “I think I will take her to the clinic tomorrow.”
Twizere is 22 years old and a mother of two young children – a four-year-old son and her six-month-old daughter, who today seems ill. In 2006, Twizere fled the violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with her parents and arrived at Nakivale.
“We heard gun shots and knew we were too close,” she says. Here at Nakivale, Twizere has found peace and stability. She’s incredibly happy – she met her husband here, who is also Congolese, and they were married. He is a crop farmer, raising mostly maize and beans.
But they still face one consistent threat – malaria. Right now, Twizere is fighting malaria herself. She hopes her baby doesn’t have it too. She and her children get malaria about three times a month. They sleep under a bednet every night, but when night falls, the mosquitoes come into her home through the open door and windows before they’ve all gone to bed.
Malaria takes a heavy toll on her – when she’s sick, she cannot care for her children. Her husband helps to cook and care for them when she’s ill, but this means he cannot work.
Last year, there were more than 63,000 cases of malaria at Nakivale – that’s an astounding number for a population of 74,000. Here, malaria is the number one cause of illness and death among children under five. And it is estimated that approximately 45% of households do not yet have access to a bednet. After all these families have been through, the last thing they should have to worry about is their child dying from a mosquito bite.
Twizere wants a large family, but she has had several miscarriages (she is comfortable disclosing this information). She smiles as she talks about the joy it brings her to be a mother and hopes to have many more children. She’s incredible grateful for her baby girl, and wants her to stay healthy.
“My baby is a miracle,” she says.
Nothing But Nets has pledged to protect millions of refugee families like those at Nakivale Refugee Settlement by raising funds for one million bednets by the end of 2016. You can help us save lives. Learn more and take the pledge.
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