Jacob, a father of five, has been a volunteer for more than 15 years, and says that before treatment was available, the disease had a huge impact on his community. “I remember when many people in my community went blind [from river blindness],” he explains. “Now it is different. We do not hear about people losing their vision due to the black fly.”
River blindness was once widespread throughout Kaduna State. But thanks to the UK aid-funded UNITED programme, the disease is being controlled and is moving closer to being eliminated.
When Jacob’s son Moses was growing up, Jacob used to tell him about his work as a volunteer and the diseases that were affecting their community. Moses recognised the positive impact his father was having and looked up to him, wanting to follow in his footsteps and become a volunteer once he was old enough. “I do not want my family and my people to become blind,” explains Moses.
Now, Jacob and Moses work together as a team to fight NTDs: they attend training courses and refresher sessions, before going out into the field to help distribute medication, known as mass drug administration (MDA). While they are out in the community, they record the names and dosage of each and every person they reach. During a single MDA, Jacob and Moses distribute preventative treatments to up to 70 people a day.
Together, Jacob and Moses are making a positive impact on their community and the lives of the people they reach.