“Is there a king of the mosquitoes?” It was a tough question. I don’t remember my answer but it must have been entertaining as the 85 third and fourth grade students at Zaman International Kindergarten and Primary Campus kept the enthusiastic questions flying.
“Where do baby mosquitoes live?” “What’s the difference between a journalist and an editor?” Etcetera.
The children at Zaman’s primary school in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kok district also wanted to know about The Cambodia Daily Mosquito Net Campaign, which has been running since 1997 and has raised more than $140,000 to purchase some 28,000 mosquito nets.
In a large lecture room, the eager students found out that every $5 donated to the campaign pays for one family-size mosquito net that is distributed to poor communities by the National Malaria Center.
They also discovered that such a small donation could protect a family from malaria and potentially help save three lives in Cambodia.
According to Unicef, an estimated 3 billion people live in areas where malaria transmission occurs, and between 350 million and 500 million cases of clinical malaria occur each year, leading to an estimated 1 million deaths.
In 2006, there were some 100,000 reported cases of malaria in Cambodia, with 396 fatalities. Last year, that figure sank to 59,848 reported cases with 241 fatalities, said Dr Tol Bunkea, head of the epidemiology department at the National Center for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control.
Tol Bunkea said the reduction could be attributed to the National Center’s programs targeting villages in remote border areas.
The program involves training voluntary medical workers who treat malaria at the village level and includes free distribution of insecticide-treated mosquito nets.
Zulfi Erken, Zaman’s primary school principal, said teachers gave the third and fourth grades information about the mosquito net campaign and had spoken about malaria with them, but their questions, and there were many, were the students’ alone.
Introducing students to campaigns that help people is a part of the lessons at Zaman International School, which now has 680 students at their high school campus and 235 students at the kindergarten and primary school.
“In [our] moral education lesson we have a topic about the effects of helping. And this habit will guide them to live a better life,” Zulfi Erken said.
“We hope to improve this feeling of the students,” he said.
Indeed, last week’s visit to Zaman ended with the presentation of $300 to The Cambodia Daily Mosquito Net Campaign by teachers and their inquisitive students.
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