Pedal Powered Public Health

Featured article submitted by Mission Rabies

 

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” Nelson Mandela

It is amazing the difference a teacher can make on the futures of the children they educate, reading and writing, a passion for learning, creativity, confidence, and skills that they would never have imagined if it wasn’t for someone giving them the knowledge to succeed. Teaching basic knowledge for public health can even be a lifesaver.

It’s largely ignored that rabies, one of the world’s oldest and most terrifying diseases, is still a worldwide killer of 60,000 to 100,000 people every year. This continues despite being fully preventable and sadly, in over 60% of cases it is young children in Africa and Asia that bear the brunt. Why? Because children are more likely to play with a dog they don’t know, more likely to run and provoke a chase and sadly will ignore a dog bite or hide it from parents. If bitten by a rabid animal without a course of post bite injections the onset of rabies and death is almost certain. Put simply, lack of understanding of rabies puts their lives at risk. This is why, we try to reduce the number of dogs that can transmit the disease and teach children and their parents how to protect themselves! We work in the world hotspots for the disease; in India which sadly hosts 30% of all deaths from the disease worldwide and in Malawi where the highest number of child deaths in Africa have been reported, increasing year on year.

How do you teach young children such a scary topic? Much like in the life of supply teaching we have a short window of opportunity, usually with an hour per group to teach some pretty big groups in resource poor settings. It’s vital our lessons are memorable; coving the first aid basics, increase understanding the disease and its transmission and inspire communities to play their part in control of the disease. Over six months we have studied and trialled numerous ways to keep the attention of children as young as five and retain these messages creating our programme which we need the help of educators to deliver to children worldwide. We get children involved in activities from plays, art, and our video cartoons as well as engaging talks to help children overcome the fear of dogs and this scary disease. We quiz the children with our fun ‘vaccine-o-meter’ adding competition to create the positive reinforcement that leads to recall and giving children the opportunity to ask their own questions. We support their teachers with give practical age based lesson plans and resources to help schools deliver these messages for generations. One of our favourite teaching aids is the rather unique pedal powered cinema, which we can use in any setting regardless of resource, electricity and to show our local language cartoon in night shows for families. This kit is portable, sets up in around 10 minutes and through cartoon we get communities involved in the spectacle of learning – powered by cycle power alone.

 

To date we have directly taught over 190,000 children since launching in September 2013! We are recruiting now volunteers for our Blantyre, Malawi and Goa, India education campaigns where your skills, adaptability, quick thinking and bit of creativity can make a huge lifesaving difference to children in protecting them from the suffering of rabies. It’s a wonderful challenge with groups ranging from 10 to 1000 children at a time – in poor rural schools as well as large inner-city academies. To find out more get in contact with us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and check out the website www.missionrabies.com/volunteer/ to see how you can get involved. 

Featured article submitted by Mission Rabies

Mission Rabies

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