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SALT saves lives

A story of Local Response by Philip from the Constellation

About 5 years ago, I was working for the Constellation in the West African state of The Gambia. We spent one very hot afternoon in a remote village. For the whole afternoon, the villagers explained to us how they had been using SALT in their battle against malaria.

The meeting went on and on. It got hotter and hotter. The enthusiasm of the people seemed endless. Finally, a woman stood up. As I remember it, the villagers became very quiet. This was the wife of the chief of the village.

“I have lived here all my life. As long as I can remember, about 6 children have died in these villages from malaria every year. It is 2 years since we started to use this tool and during this time, no child has died from malaria. We will continue to use this tool.”

I find it very hard to capture the determination in this woman’s voice. In some ways, it was terrifying. But mainly, it was awe inspiring. I have rarely been so moved in my life.

At the end of the meeting, I went in search of this lady to thank her. Finally I found her. She immediately came up to me and gave me a wonderful hug. I think that she was little more than 4 feet tall. When she had been speaking she had been standing and I had been sitting on the ground. At the moment she spoke, I was convinced that she was 8 feet tall.

"When we take ownership of our challenge, our action is sustainable".

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