Barakat’s mission to strengthen the fundamental human right to education in South and Central Asia is often hindered by the lack of equality between men and women, and between those of different classes within the environment in which our schools are located. This issue is of particular importance in India. Due to the caste system, those of less fortunate means are most often denied access to quality education and healthcare, limiting the progress of each new generation.
An issue of particular importance is the prevalence of malaria in India. Barakat’s schools in India are located in an area especially susceptible to malaria, thereby creating a real threat to the livelihood of students and their families. According to the World Health Organization, 60 percent of malaria deaths in India occur in the forested areas of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, Uttar being the location of Barakat’s schools. In these areas, a high degree of malaria transmission is maintained by mosquito vectors. The physical effects range from flu like symptoms to death, leaving even those who do not contract the virus to feel the effects. Malaria incidence cuts economic growth rates and is associated with a decrease in literacy and school attendance.
In August, Priyanka Ramamurthy, a Wellesley College graduate and campus chapter coordinator at Barakat, created Barakat’s Initiative Against Malaria in order to combat the spread of malaria within our schools.
Ramamurthy’s influence upon the initiative cannot go unnoticed. Through her continued effort and passion, Barakat has raised $2,700 dollars, which will provide roughly 350 long-lasting Insecticide Treated Nets (ITNs) and print 250 20-page textbooks on malaria prevention for students enrolled in the Barakat schools in India. The book is targeted toward young readers; printed in color with illustrations and written in Hindi.
Barakat has partnered with Netting Nations, a non-profit dedicated to providing ITNs to those in need in countries especially affected by malaria. With the help of Netting Nations, we have been able to by the nets at a bulk price of roughly $5 dollars per net, and the organization is donating the cost of shipping the nets.
While education is a step towards improvement for the livelihood of India’s youth, it is simply not enough. Without access to proper health care, the progress of one’s development on both intellectual and physical levels is hindered. These nets will save lives and better communities.