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Fighting malaria in Sierra Leone

man smiles for camera with mountain scene behind

"I’m not giving up until I have a bite on malaria"

Last Sport Relief, we met Mohammed – a young man with a powerful sense of determination to take on the fight against malaria in his community in Sierra Leone.

He had been chosen to join a project run by On Our Radar, an organisation receiving cash from the Comic Relief and GSK partnership, to train young people as citizen reporters so that they are able to find and share powerful stories about how malaria affects their and other people’s lives. 

Mohamed knows first-hand the impact that malaria has on communities like his. He suffered from the disease regularly during his childhood which meant he missed a lot of school, and he now sees the next generation of children playing on mounds of festering rubbish and discarded plastic, next to stagnant water - a breeding ground for malaria, which is the country’s biggest killer.

When Mohamed became a citizen reporter, he told us that he was proud to have been given the chance to be ‘the voice of the voiceless’ and play his part in educating people and bringing awareness of how to prevent and treat malaria more effectively and, over the last two years, he has been doing just that.

He said: “It doesn’t take a professional to tell these stories, and we don’t need to focus on the most read or the most popular stories either. Instead, it’s the untold stories, indiscriminate of race or religion, across boundaries, borders, that are the real stories that matter.”

Thanks to funding from the Comic Relief and GSK partnership, Mohamed has also been working to train and mentor a new network of reporters in communities in Sierra Leone so they can submit SMS and audio reports on their mobile phones, unearthing hidden stories about the day-to-day impacts of living with malaria.

One of these stories is of community health volunteer, Salieu. Salieu’s child was just four years old when he became sick from malaria and died. Now Salieu, who has been trained to identify the signs and symptoms of malaria, has dedicated his time to helping other families in his community, educating them on the importance of spotting symptoms and getting vital treatment quickly.