REACHING BEYOND OUR BORDERS
In 2004, as the
Northeastern Mosquito Control Association (NMCA) prepared to celebrate its 50th
anniversary, President Curtis Best was also seeking to expand the reach of the
Association beyond the
The NMCA membership is no stranger to philanthropy. We have had a scholarship and grant in aid program (http://www.nmca.org/scholarship.htm) in place for many years that now awards up to $2,000 in each category. Over the past 10 years alone we have awarded nearly $30,000 to 22 worthy candidates. But Curt was searching for a new endeavor, something “out of the box” for NMCA.
researching many options like malaria control in endemic regions of the world,
purchasing and giving out bed nets through various organizations, Curt focused
in on an organization called AMREF.
AMREF stands for the African Medical and
Research Foundation, and was founded in 1957 as the Flying Doctors of East
Africa. Their goal is to improve the health of impoverished people in
· HIV/AIDS, TB and Sexually Transmitted Diseases
· Safe Water and Basic Sanitation
· Family Health
· Clinical Services, Disaster Management and Emergency Response
· Training and Health Learning Materials
While malaria intervention
would seem to be the logical choice for us at first, we were steered in a
slightly different direction by our contact at AMREF
According to Mr. Yaggy, AMREF’s capacity in
laboratory science is highly unusual among health development organizations.
They have a central lab in
Mr. Yaggy tells me that each year at the main lab in Nairobi, AMREF offers a 12-week refresher course for working laboratory technicians, most of whom work in very rural, isolated areas where they have no access to continuing professional education, effective supervision, or even up-to-date reference materials. This course enrolls 15-20 students each year, and is the only course like it available in the region he states.
recipient of the NMCA grant was Mr. Philip Kilusu, a young Maasai man who had
worked for several years as a laboratory technician and wanted to upgrade his
skills to be of more help to his own community. The Maasai tribe lives in the
Trans-Mara district, in the Rift Valley
Mr. Yaggy writes that Philip was inspired by his experiences to want to attend AMREF’s year-long Diploma in Community Health course, which prepares mid-level health professionals with several years of experience to become community health administrators. While tailored to African health professionals like nurses and laboratory technicians, it is roughly comparable to a Master’s in Public Health degree in the United States according to Mr. Yaggy. Although Philip was accepted into the course that year, he could not afford to attend.
Mr. Yaggy informs us that the next year Philip re-applied and was accepted again, but needed help to afford the course. NMCA agreed to make its $2,500 contribution available to support Philip, AMREF USA contributed another $2,500, and AMREF Headquarters made up the final contribution of the $7,400 tuition. Eventually AMREF USA also contributed to Philip’s living expenses in Nairobi. He has now successfully completed the course and received his diploma on December 6, 2007.
Philip writes in a letter to NMCA:
“The module under which I took the photos is environmental health. We were constructing a spring, a latrine and a borehole well. This was to help us be able to construct them in our communities where we are going to work. Spring protection and the digging of the borehole will enable the community to drink safe water. In the process we also teach them the importance of drinking safe water to avoid water-borne diseases. The knowledge acquired will be of great help to the Maasai community, which I come from, in disease prevention, especially malaria, which is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the community. The course has enlightened me and towards this end I have a desire to continue with the studies to attain a degree in community health. On behalf of the community, and myself, I say thank you and may God bless you all.”
Mr. Yaggy writes in a later letter that the
second lab student supported by NMCA was Ms. Cecilia Naponi who attended the
refresher training course offered January through early April 2007. She works
in a tuberculosis & leprosy clinic in Maridi in
Mr. Yaggy continues on and states that that South Sudan has been affected by severe conflict for much of the last century, and during the last 20 years almost all doctors and other highly trained professionals fled, leaving the already very weak health system in a shambles. He says AMREF is committed to rebuilding the health system, and manages a training institute in Maridi for the Ministry of Health. Therefore, Cecilia Napoli seemed a very fitting student for NMCA to support. Mr. Yaggy reports through his contacts in the region that she completed the course successfully and returned to her job in Maridi.
Fund founded by Curt, and administered through the Charitable Committee on
behalf of the membership receives much of it’s funding through our Silent
Auction held each year during our annual meeting. In 2004 Curt discussed his
idea of creating this fund with
Mr. Yaggy concludes by stating “We at AMREF are very grateful to all the members of the Northeastern Mosquito Control Association for your generous support of these students over the past three years, and we look forward to continuing to work with you.” As evidenced by the recent vote of the membership, we also look forward to working with AMREF.
While we focus some of our benevolent efforts on a different continent, we are aware of struggles in our own country. In early 2006, as a show of compassion and support, the NMCA Executive Board voted to send donations to both the Louisiana Mosquito Control Association, whose members felt the ravages of Hurricane Katrina, and to the Florida Mosquito Control Association membership which was affected by Hurricane Wilma. Gratitude was extended back to us for our outreach, and the membership felt we provided a small measure of comfort to our colleagues in a difficult time. If you know of areas our Charitable Committee can consider, please contact us at email@example.com.
Donations to the
NMCA Benevolent Fund can be made through our Treasurer at:
Or you can contribute to AMREF USA through their website at: http://usa.amref.org. (Note from their website: For the third year in a row, Charity Navigator has given AMREF USA their coveted 4 out of 4 star rating for sound fiscal management. AMREF is the winner of the 2005 Gates award for Global Health. For every dollar you give to AMREF 92 cents goes directly to our projects and just 8 cents is spent on administration.)
The author would like to acknowledge the following contributors to this article:
Bill Yaggy, AMREF USA, Director of Institutional Giving
Curtis Best, founder, NMCA Benevolent Fund and NMCA President, 2003-2005
NMCA Executive Board (http://www.nmca.org/nmcaoff.htm)
Author: Timothy D. Deschamps, NMCA Editor