I met Margaret on my most recent trip to West Africa. Margaret is a BRAC Sierra Leone health promoter in Grassfield, south-east of central Freetown. In only three months after joining, she is already very active in health education in her community. “I first learned about many health topics from BRAC – importance of breast feeding, TB, Malaria, personal hygiene, safe drinking water, and more.” She is noticing changes in the level of cleanliness and hygiene maintained by members in the community that she covers.
We ask Margaret “can you treat someone with Malaria?” She replies “There are 2 types of malaria. For complicated malaria, the patient must be treated at the hospital. If I diagnose less complicated malaria, I use knowledge learned from BRAC and treat that person with medicine.”
As we prepare to bid goodbye to Margaret, it starts to rain very heavily. Margaret offered us shelter in her front porch, covered by the tin roof of her small house. We noticed a large horizontal refrigerator in the living room behind us. It took up more than half of the space in her living room. “Why do you have such a large refrigerator?”, we ask. To our pleasant surprise, we learn “I started a business of selling cold, packaged water. I bought this refrigerator with a [$170] microloan from BRAC.”
Margaret is a microloan client and a microfranchisor. With a BRAC loan she started her business of selling packaged water and cooking charcoal. As a BRAC health promoter, she earns additional income from selling health commodities to the 200+ households she covers. Last but not least as a health promoter, she educates her community on every pressing health issue in Sierra Leone that she learned about from BRAC, planting the seeds for awareness, treatment, and prevention. Margaret is an example of the multiplier-effect at work from BRAC’s holistic approach to poverty alleviation.