The fight against malaria: Ari Johnson from Project Muso explains
This week, representatives from four teams, Faiths Act in Sierra Leone, PIRCOM in Mozambique, NIFAA in Nigeria, and Project Muso in Mali, gathered at the invitation of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation for a day of mutual learning, to share vision, strategies, and techniques, and to learn from each other’s experiences.
“Malaria is a face of poverty.” Bishop Sengulane. “We must make a lot of noise about this. The voices of those affected are not often heard.”
Our teams came together through our common appreciation of the vital role that faith communities can play in the fight against malaria. I’ve shared many conversations with community members, Imams, and Priests in Mali about the challenges they face in fighting malaria. Struggling to overcome some of the world’s most dire conditions of poverty, they often cannot access the essential tools they need to protect themselves and their children—tools such as a bed net to sleep in at night, access to healthcare, nutritious food, and information about malaria prevention and treatment.
These are simple tools, but they are not yet effectively reaching those who need them most. Through this day of exchange, we shared different approaches to mobilize the power and reach of faith communities, bringing access to these tools and stopping malaria deaths. We discussed how religious leaders can help organize the locally led fight against malaria. Trusted by their congregations and with deep knowledge of the challenges their communities face, they can share information, teach skills, mobilize community campaigns. In the process, their joint actions can foster inter-religious solidarity and unity to overcome the injustices of malaria.
We also discussed the moral imperative of stopping deaths from malaria—the commitment we must make as a global community to stop a disease we know how to prevent and treat, yet which continues to kill hundreds of thousands of people every year. Our teams shared how this moral imperative has brought together individuals of many religious affiliations and of no religious affiliation from around the world, through our shared commitment to the immeasurable value and sacred dignity of every life.
Years ago, when Project Muso’s team was first discussing the possibility of collaborating with the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, I remember a conversation I hadwith Moise Samaké, a religious Catholic and the coordinator of Project Muso’s education programs. “This collaboration is very important Ari,” Moise told me, “Because the fight against malaria should have no borders. We must reach further. We must work together to build a global movement.” Gathering last Monday, with allies from Nigeria, the UK, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, Mali, the US, with Muslims, Christians, and Jews, I saw Moise’s vision of a global movement take another step forward.
Ari Johnson from Project Muso