Real Life Stories

ukJo Yirrell

Story type: Malaria

Nothing can ever change my feelings of grief after losing my son Harry, but I know that he would want me to dedicate myself to saving others from malaria. Harry should not have died from this disease and I want to do all I can to support Malaria No More UK’s work to end malaria deaths once and for all.

Harry volunteered in a village school in Ghana and came home having unknowingly contracted a deadly strain of malaria. He seemed fine at first, but within a matter of days he had needlessly lost his life to this preventable disease. I want to make sure that in the near future Ghana will be malaria free so this doesn’t happen to anyone else. I visited Africa and Ghana for the first time in April 2009 with Malaria No More UK and the BBC to make a documentary about Harry. I may have had a lot to deal with – Harry, malaria, poverty; but the trip gave me strength and resolve to fight.

Nothing can ever change my feelings of grief after losing Harry but I know that he would want me to dedicate myself to saving others from malaria

Now Richard Curtis has written Mary and Martha, a film which portrays two mothers who both lose their sons to malaria in Africa. Remarkably my story helped inspire the character of Martha and I truly hope that the film moves, inspires and engages people across the world about our generation’s opportunity to stop suffering and death from malaria. I know it is possible, I’ve seen it for myself in Ghana – for example £5 is enough to buy, deliver and hang a mosquito net to protect the people who need them most in Africa. Mosquito nets dramatically cut deaths and cases of people catching malaria and are so affordable that there is no excuse not to help.

If I can achieve my goal of ridding Africa of malaria with the help and support of Malaria No More UK and the British public, then I will have built a huge memorial to my precious son Harry, and know that at least his death has given me the strength to help others.

Jo is a Special Ambassador for Malaria No More UK

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Malaria No More UK is part of a global effort to put an end to the suffering and death caused by malaria.