Avana Pangane Muyalomo
"I will not stop until my whole village is free of sickness.”
For the past three years, Avana Pangane Muyalomo has worked as a volunteer in Ngangolo village in northern Mozambique, where he identifies people suffering from trachoma and advises them on treatment options. His role also involves teaching local people about the importance of face washing and cleanliness to prevent the spread of the disease – part of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) SAFE approach to public health.
“What I enjoy most about my role is to see my people around me free from sickness. This is what motivates me,” he explains.
During a lesson about facial cleanliness and environmental improvement, Avana gathers people in the village square to explain the importance of keeping their homes and latrines clean, to avoid attracting the flies that transmit trachoma. He describes how people should wash their face and hands with soap in clean running water, rather than in a bowl, and also warns women not to use their clothing to wipe their children’s faces, which can spread the disease. Throughout the talk, he uses a laminated flip book of pictures to reinforce the messages.
Avana lives in Ngangolo village with his two wives and six children – one son and five daughters. He’s justifiably proud of all the people he has helped by encouraging them to have surgery for trachoma, but he explains it’s not an easy job. “Many people in my community live far from here. I don’t have transport – I have to walk on foot to bring people to have the operations. I’m getting older, and it is hard for me to reach people. I need a motorbike or a bicycle. What is also difficult is that when I find these people and explain about the help available, they don’t want to come. They are afraid.”
Despite the challenges, Avana is determined to continue his invaluable work. “We don’t have payment – I am a volunteer. But I cannot stop. I will not stop until my whole village is free of sickness.”
(Case study courtesy of Helen Ashby/Sightsavers)