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Biting Back

Join the Bite the Bug 2009 Campaign and help eradicate malaria

Last month, prominent Muslim-American community leaders and activists accompanied Islamic Relief USA staff members on a trip to Mali to spearhead a campaign against Malaria.

The Bite the Bug campaign is mobilizing thousands of volunteers across the United States and religious leaders, like Imam Zaid Shakir from the Zaytuna Institute, who are excited to aid in Islamic Relief USA's effort to eradicate malaria.

Islamic Relief USA chose to commence its global anti-malaria campaign in Mali for the simple reason that malaria is endemic to more than 90 percent of Mali's population.

By the end of 2006 alone, an estimated 4.3 million cases of malaria in Mali, over half of which involved children under age five, according to reports from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Imam Zaid revealed in his blog that malaria, a preventable and treatable disease, is filling up hospitals with infected and dying children who are in desperate need of treatment.

Starting Things Off

Imam Zaid and the Islamic Relief team, which featured other notables like Imam Talib Abdul Rashid, a well-known Muslim leader from Harlem, New York, and the Vice Amir of the Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA), spent the first hours in Mali at a grand opening of an Islamic Relief health center in the village of Diena.

“Nothing in my imagination could have prepared me for the reception we received,” Shakir recalled in his Blog, praising the townsfolk.  “I was impressed by the dignity of the people we had met. They were poor, no doubt. However, they were honorable and dignified. They were not asking for handouts, just a helping hand.”

“The clinic was a clean, presentable facility that includes an office, a delivery room, a recovery room, a small maternity ward, and an adjacent sanitary restroom facility. Both of those facilities are about twenty meters from a well that was also provided by Islamic Relief,” he added.

Moving On

After a successful start to the trip, the team visited a hospital, where the harsh reality of poverty laced with disease shocked Shakir.

Imam Zaid was most surprised to see the number of children suffering from malaria.

“The patients were suffering from a variety of maladies as we would subsequently learn, most commonly malaria,” Imam Zaid said after his visit to a hospital in Rharous.

“Most of the patients were children. In fact, the child patients had taken over the women's wards in addition to the rooms designated for their treatment.”

Hospitals could not treat these patients, however, for one chief reason: lack of supplies.  Shakir even recalled the hospital's pharmacy to be “completely out of malaria medicine.”

Such memories validated the trip in his mind and strengthened his resolve to support Islamic Relief's efforts to help prevent and treat malaria.

World Malaria Day

April 25, 2009, will be World Malaria Day, a day of unified commemoration of the global effort to provide effective control of malaria around the world.

Curing and preventing malaria is not just a central goal for Islamic Relief, but one of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, which Islamic Relief supports.

Please support Islamic Relief USA's efforts to aid the people in Mali who are suffering from malaria by donating today and signing up for Islamic Relief's Bite the Bug campaign.
And hold fast, all together, by the rope which Allah (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude Allah's favour on you; for ye were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His Grace, ye became brethren; and ye were on the brink of the pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus doth Allah make His Signs clear to you: That ye may be guided.

Quran: 3:103
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