Beyond educating children, in rural areas customized educational materials for local communities are also a key component of NALA’s interventions. Clear instructions using images on fundamental practices, such as hand washing and using designated latrines, are an essential part of controlling neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).
Intimate gatherings, organized by women like Belayinesh, who volunteers for the Health Development Army, a group of women who disseminate health messages in their communities, also play an important role in eradicating diseases. The Ethiopian coffee ceremony is an example of bringing friends and neighbors together, where information can be shared in a casual setting. The smell of coffee beans roasting on the doorstep is part of the invitation, so if you smell it, you’re invited.
In addition, church is an important part of life in Orthodox Christian Ethiopia, where pastors are revered as informal leaders of the community. Pastor Getachew at the Meserete Kristos church delivers a traditionally enthusiastic sermon, at the end addressing social matters including activities that increase the spread of diseases.
NALA’s educational program empowers local volunteers with the tools to teach other community members about disease transmission, symptoms, and prevention methods. These dedicated volunteers are essential in changing the community’s attitudes towards NTDs including the importance of elimination.