From the time he was six months old, Solomon had been perpetually sick from malaria. His mother, Grace Biliyati, is a farmer in a rural village in Malawi. Each time her baby was sick, Grace struggled to find the money to pay for a visit to the Alinafe Health Center to get medical treatment for her youngest son. The clinic is more than three miles from her home. Eventually Grace was forced to sell most of her assets to pay for repeated visits to the clinic.
Photo: Grace and Solomon, nicknamed "Alinafe"
Because he spent so much of his time there, Solomon earned the nickname "Alinafe." His nickname became so popular at the health center and in his village that Solomon grew up without knowing his real name.
Grace says, "my income was still so low that I could no longer afford to take my son to the hospital. I could not send my children to school. My family could not afford three meals a day, not even church offerings."
And then help came to Grace, in the form of the Lutheran Malaria Program in Malawi. In 2012, she joined a Village Savings and Loan group in a nearby town. There she received two kinds of crucial education: techniques and behaviors to keep her family safe from malaria, and key financial knowledge to help her increase her income.
After she had participated with the Village Savings and Loan group for three months, Grace was able to access a loan from her community members that allowed her to start a small business. She began selling fruits and vegetables, and her income increased.
Photo: Grace's Village Savings and Loan group, which helped her to increase her household income and the health of her family!
One of the first things Grace purchased with her new income was an insecticide-treated mosquito net. Every night, her son sleeps under that net. Because Grace knows to use the net faithfully and correctly, her son now rarely suffers from malaria.
"Look! Solomon is now a healthy bouncing baby!" says Grace, smiling. "We no longer visit Alinafe hospital and indeed he is no longer called 'Alinafe.' He is now called Solomon."
Thanks to the Lutheran Malaria Program in Malawi and their Village Savings and Loan program, Solomon has his name back.