Soa and the Moka: An Educational Story about Malaria

Dec 2014
 Cover for the Story of Matia and the Moka

Inspired by a trip to southeastern Madagascar to volunteer at Le Centre d'Accueil et de Transit des Jumeaux Abandonné (CATJA) orphanage in Mananjary, Peace Corps volunteers Raegan and Patrick Spencer wrote and illustrated Soa and the Moka, a story that teaches about the dangers of malaria and how to avoid malaria transmission.

The main character, Soa, is based on twin girls living at the CATJA orphanage who left a lasting impact on the Spencers. The Spencers wanted to convey health messages in a way that would captivate children, just as they themselves had been enchanted by countless storybooks during their own childhoods. 

Once the story of Soa and the Moka was illustrated and translated into Malagasy, the Spencers met with the National Malaria Control Program in order to obtain official approval for the story, malaria messages, and translation. After receiving approval, they applied for and received a small project assistance grant funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to publish Soa and the Moka; 700 copies of the book have been printed (650 in Malagasy and 50 in English). It is also available electronically.

The Spencers also developed a curriculum to accompany the book. The curriculum incorporates crossword puzzles, treasure hunts, connect the dots, and other activities to reinforce key messages on malaria prevention, identification, and treatment. 

The book has been distributed to all education and health Peace Corps volunteers in Madagascar to use as an educational tool in their communities. The book and accompanying curriculum are included in all Regional Malaria Activity Kits and are accessible to all volunteers interested in using them. Non-governmental organizations in Madagascar have expressed interest in mass producing the book and translating Soa and the Moka into the different dialects spoken in rural communities where malaria is prevalent.

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