Join The Safety Net

Join The Safety Net

Start a Fundraiser

Get Started

Raise Your Voice

Get Started

Ways to Give

Learn More
Take Action

Post Author Post Author
By: United to Beat Malaria,  Amardeep Shergill

World Children’s Day 2023: Isaiah’s Story

November 20, 2023
Hero Image

On World Children’s Day (November 20), the world comes together to spotlight and take action towards children’s welfare. Marking the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child – the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history – it’s still critical to act for children’s rights as approximately 1 in 8 children born in a developing country dies before their 5thbirthday.

This World Children’s Day, we’re spotlighting a story we received from the ground in Uganda.

Meet Nakendo Hajarah, a mother, lawyer, and malaria Champion in Kampala, Uganda who fights to end malaria in her community and country as Program Coordinator with the Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Malaria. Fighting malaria is a highly personal cause to Ms. Hajarah. Her son Isaiah battled the disease for several years. She shared Isaiah’s story with United to Beat Malaria.

“After my son Isaiah, then aged eight, suffered malaria in 2018, he was never the same…My main priority has always been the safety and well-being of my little boy, Isaiah. He was a happy toddler hitting every milestone just as expected. As a matter of fact he was progressing quickly for his age (8), he had started school and progressed well.

He was a known sickler [an individual affected with sickle cell anemia] but suddenly fell ill in February of 2018. I immediately recognized the symptoms as malaria, a disease all too common in Uganda.”

Ms. Hajarah rushed Isaiah to hospital where he was diagnosed with severe malaria. In hospital, he developed brain confusion, suddenly losing his vision, his legs became numb, and his face was drooping.

The next day, Ms. Hajarah was told to go to another hospital to get a CT scan, where the doctors informed her that Isaiah had developed a transient ischemic attack (TIA). He was then referred to yet another hospital for further testing and treatment. Here, the doctor confirmed the TIA and found two infarctions in his brain due to stroke.

“The experience laid a heavy financial and emotional toll on me, including losing employment every now and then due to regular absenteeism while I’m nursing my son…To this day he continues to re-learn his cognitive skills. My son’s life has been a lifelong battle between being vigilant about child’s health and providing a semblance of normalcy.”

Since Isaiah’s initial malaria diagnosis, he contracted malaria multiple times, having to go in and out of hospital. Despite this, he is now home where he belongs and more importantly, smiling – back to activities like swimming and attending school.

“I was driven to get involved in the fight against malaria so more people would get to know how dangerous malaria can be, particularly to children. My hope is for a malaria-free Uganda and for children, like my son, to grow up to their full potential and realize their dreams. I envision a world where mothers will raise their children without fear or anxiety of a child suffering from a preventable and treatable disease.”

“I am united to beat malaria because by raising awareness and fighting against malaria, we can protect the future of millions of children and create a brighter future for all children in the world.”

Stories like Isaiah’s are all too common across sub-Saharan Africa as children are disproportionately affected by this disease, accounting for roughly 75% of all malaria deaths worldwide.

This World Children’s Day, you can take action by tweeting your member of Congress, joining the Safety Net, or sharing Isaiah’s story to ensure that no parent has to worry about this preventable and treatable disease.

Join Our Network

Sign up now to stay up to date on progress made in the fight to beat malaria.