Mafalda’s commitment to her community

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Mafalda, a community health worker trained by Malaria Consortium in southern Mozambique

Fernando Bambo, Malaria Consortium’s Training Manager in Mozambique, recounts meeting Mafalda José Ngonhamo, one of almost 800 community health workers who received training in case management of childhood diseases from Malaria Consortium and partners in Mozambique in July and August 2013

The weather forecast said that the southern part of Mozambique would be hit by a heat wave, with temperatures reaching around 36 degrees celsius. True to the forecast, the temperature is scorching. It is our “spring” here in Mozambique, we are still transitioning from winter to summer and it will be cool again tonight.

We arrive at the Eduardo Mondlane Resource Center for Inclusive Education, a centre in southern Mozambique providing day care and access to education for children with disabilities. We are here to conduct a refresher training course for local community health workers. We will be reviewing prior training that the health workers have had in health promotion and the case management of malaria and other simple childhood diseases in the community.

The children at the center welcome us with curiosity. Interacting with them, I realise my relative illiteracy. They are using sign language to communicate with us but we are unable to understand.

Mafalda José Ngonhamo, 37 years old, is one of the community health workers participating in the training. She lives in Bilene District in Gaza province. She has four children: two girls and two boys, the oldest 15 years old. She is pregnant and expecting her fifth child soon.

The coordinator responsible for community health workers in the district had informed Mafalda about the training and suggested that because of the advanced stage of her pregnancy, she need not participate.

But Mafalda did not agree. She felt she should do her best to participate in the training and uphold her responsibility to her community.

She takes short breaks often but actively participates in the training, always raising her hand to answer questions. She is clearly motivated and determined to be on an equal footing with the other trainees. When I asked her why she decided to come she replied:

“When I heard about the training and that I was not expected to participate, I really felt very sad. Then I gathered forces, I gained courage and communicated that I was willing to participate because I love the work I do as community health worker. I committed to help my community and could not miss this opportunity to learn.”

As we are chatting, Mafalda shows me a poster on the danger signs during pregnancy. It is a new communication material that district authorities have distributed to community health workers to support them in their efforts to improve maternal health.

“This is very useful to me now as I am pregnant, but I will use it in my work to educate other pregnant women about danger signs and the importance of seeking immediate care at the nearest health unit…”

As part of the Project for the Prevention and Control of Malaria funded by the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Malaria Consortium and partners including World Vision, International Relief for Development and Fundação para o Desenvolvimento da Comunidade, held a series of training sessions in disease prevention, health promotion, proper management of cases at the community level, monitoring and evaluation and proper medicines management.

Mafalda José Ngonhamo, is one of the 785 community health workers who were trained between the months of July and August of 2013. Training was given to both district trainers and community health workers and took place in the provinces Inhambane, Sofala, Manica, Tete, Zambézia, Gaza and Maputo.

Find out more about Malaria Consortium in Mozambique here.