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Biz card leads to call to action

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Eight months after handing out a business card while on safari, Tom Curry, of Port Angeles, received an unexpected opportunity to make a significant difference.

After touring Tanzania in March 2009, Curry was contacted by Metwiy Sabore, a teacher in the remote village of Olduvai Boma.

Sabore reached out to Curry because three village children were hospitalized with malaria. 
The mosquito-carried disease is rampant in the country and, because of the village’s small size, government and international aid are minimal to nonexistent.

Soon after, on Nov. 18, 2009, Curry, his wife, Rhonda, and friends founded the nonprofit Maasailand Health Project, which specifically helps nomadic tribes of Maasailand, Tanzania.

Need grows
Curry quickly got to work on sending supplies by raising $1,000 and matching the funds himself.

In December 2009, the group partnered with Terrawatu, a Tanzania non-government organization, to deliver 100 insecticide-treated nets, blood test kits, medication and a medical team to treat malaria in Sabore’s village of 92 people.

Curry then set a new goal of $10,000 by March 15 for more supplies. 

That would support five more villages in the Olduvai region of Maasailand, at $2,000 per village and about $20 per person.

Maasai people
The Olduvai region’s people are nomads who make homes of dung and sticks and deal in livestock.

Due to malaria, the locals fear mosquitoes more than lions, Curry said.

The March 15 goal is because the rainy season begins in March, malaria carrying mosquitoes breed then and the disease spreads in April.

Curry said many local and international agencies are trying to eliminate malaria but the rural villages are overlooked.

“Of course, relief goes to high population centers, but there are no services for the Maasai,” he said.

“We’ve made no progress with the government agencies, but with the Terrawatu there was immediate dialogue.”

The health project hires Tanzanian companies for distribution.
 
Reaching out
An image that returns to Curry’s mind is of a little girl who was fascinated by his white skin. She grabbed his arm and began rubbing hers against his.

Curry said he wants to keep beautiful, wonderful, children like her and others from getting malaria.

Sabore said in his request that he wanted to educate his people about malaria prevention. 
The Maasailand Health Project has raised about $3,600 toward the $10,000 goal.

“It’ll be cheaper to sustain the projects in a few years when we aren’t buying nets,” Curry said.
All donations go straight to the Maasai, and Curry said he is willing to open the books for anyone.

Each net costs about $7 and the pesticide in it lasts four years. 

“Even if it’s torn, it’s still effective,” Curry said. 

Curry has made a commitment to go this month or in early April to help deliver the supplies.
“Who would have thought that handing out a business card in a dung hut would lead to this?” Curry asked.

More information on the Maasailand Health Project is online at www.mlhp.org.

Princess Valiant Coffee in Port Angeles is donating all proceeds from its Tanzania Peaberry Coffee and Tanzanian chocolate to the project through www.princessvaliant.com.

Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.


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