All News & Blogs
Spotsylvania man leads effort to protect sister city from malaria
A villager carries malaria-fighting mosquito nets in Prince's Town. The World Health Organization estimates the disease kills 200,000 African infants each year.
Frank Delano/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
View More Images from this story
Visit the Photo Place
Date published: 8/28/2007
BY FRANK DELANO
PRINCE'S TOWN, Ghana--Late one night in July, three exhausted travelers reached this remote village to deliver a life-saving cargo from Fredericksburg.
They had traveled hundreds of miles across West Africa in crowded buses, vans and, finally, a four-wheel-drive vehicle to bring three heavy bales containing 250 insecticidal bed nets to Prince's Town.
Darius Coulibaly, a 30-year-old special-education teacher at Chancellor High School in Spotsylvania County, led the team that included his physician sister and an assistant from their native Ivory Coast.
Coulibaly's mission began in April in Fredericksburg. He organized a Walk/Run Against Malaria that raised about $2,000 to buy and deliver the insecticide-treated nets that help prevent malaria.
But it was not "Mission Accomplished" for Coulibaly when he delivered the bed nets to Fredericksburg's sister city. It was "Mission Begun."
He talked the next morning with leaders of the town under an acacia tree, which he recognized as "a good herbal remedy for malaria."
He told them that the bed nets were just the start of a long-term effort to challenge and help the people of Prince's Town find their own solutions to their own problems.
Governments and large nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) use "top-down" approaches to help solve problems, he said. Coulibaly's approach is decidedly "bottom-up."
He believes that no one from outside--no government, no NGO, no foreign experts, not even himself--can understand and change an African community as well as the people who live there.
"The people with the problems are the ones who have the solutions. You can't sit in a glass office and make it happen," he said.helping his homeland
Coulibaly experienced poverty and disease firsthand growing up in his native village in Ivory Coast. He eventually grew to 7 feet tall. His height and ambition led to basketball scholarships and degrees from U.S. schools.
He founded his one-man charity Empowering the Poor in 2005 to put his philosophy into action.