The 44-Cent Cure

Submitted by Johanna on Sat, 07/07/2012 - 01:48

A young girl from an Asian village is skipping along a dirt road on her way to draw water from a nearby stream-bank, her bare feet kicking up the dust. She waves to some of the women washing clothing by the bank, and cheerfully calls out to the children playing in the shallows. After prodding a cow out of the way with a stick, she quickly fills her jug with water. It all seems perfectly safe, but in reality, the villagers’ lives are in danger because of something they cannot even see. Today I want to persuade you that you have the ability and the resources to protect these people from the threat of this unseen enemy. Who is this enemy? We call it the parasite.

Let’s begin with a definition of parasite. Parasites are organisms that live in or on another host, competing for the same nutrients that the host needs. The waste that parasites secrete is toxic to the human body, and causes numerous health problems and diseases. As we will see, parasites are indeed a threat. World Concern, a Christian organization promoting the health and welfare of impoverished people around the world states: “Approximately 40\% of the world’s children are affected by intestinal parasites, usually caused by dirty water and poor sanitation. Parasites affect a child’s development and cause hunger, nausea and lack of energy. In about 60,000 severe cases each year, [parasites] kill.” That means that every ten minutes another child will die from this malady.

UNICEF, a well-known international organization, is devoted to protecting and providing for children in need. They state that, “Children are particularly susceptible and typically have the largest number of worms. About 400 million school-age children are infected by roundworm, whipworm and/or hookworm.” The little village girl mentioned earlier is a representative of what is going on around our world every day. Millions of people living in third-world countries are simply not aware of the danger surrounding them, and as a result, end up succumbing to disease.

Parasites can be picked up in countless ways. One is through contact with dusty roads that both people and animals use. Animals defecate regularly on the road making it an open breeding ground for parasites. Since most children in third-world countries travel barefoot, parasites can enter their bodies through the soles of their feet. Another way that parasites invade the body is through drinking water. Nearly all of the water that is used for drinking, cooking, and washing contains parasites – whether from an infected person having contact with the water, or from people drinking from the same streams used by animals for watering and bathroom purposes. Even well water can be contaminated.

Once inside the body, parasites drain sorely needed nutrients from the child. According to World Concern, “Worms rob victims of valuable nutrition and hydration, making children more vulnerable to disease, causing…vitamin A and iron deficiency....” Other complications from parasites can result in malnutrition, skin disease, blindness, and as we saw earlier, even death.

In America, how many children have to deal with parasites and the problems they present? Here in the United States, we are blessed with easy access to medicine and good health care, as well as an awareness for sanitation. Because of these resources, cases involving intestinal parasites are rare. However, in impoverished countries, parasites run rampant because children are not taught to avoid getting them in the first place, often coming into contact with parasite breeding grounds every day. In addition to all of this, medical help is not easily accessible. As a result, many die.

At one time, I was of the mindset that I could do little to relieve these children of their distress. Yet there is a solution. The truth of the matter is that parasites and the diseases they inflict are curable, and the amount of money needed to bring about such a cure is much less than you might imagine. In fact, even the meager allowance of a child living here in the United States can provide a cure.

The treatment itself begins with a chewable pill of Membendazole (which kills off the worms in the intestinal tract) and Vitamin A, which acts as a supplement to the immune system. With this treatment, the results are immediate. On many occasions the worms exit the body within an hour, leaving the child cured. According to their website, “Since 2007, World Concern has treated nearly 12 million people in hundreds of villages worldwide.” In addition to these treatments, World Concern also educates the people about sanitation and hygiene, builds good latrines, and whenever possible constructs a clean water source in the village, reducing the potential of more infection from parasites.

By now, some of you may be asking the question, “What does this have to do with me? Why should I care about this?” To answer these questions let us look to the Bible. In Luke chapter 10, Jesus tells a parable about a traveler who is attacked by robbers, beaten, and left for dead. Several people (including a priest) pass by the man, intent on minding their own business, ignoring his obvious distress and need for help. Yet when a Samaritan – a foreigner – passes by, he bandages the man’s wounds and moves him to an inn to recover, even paying for his convalescence. After telling this parable, Jesus concludes saying that we must go and show mercy toward others just as the Samaritan showed toward the beaten man.

The Samaritan could have ignored the traveler as everyone else had. He could have gone about his own business with the excuse that he was just too busy or hadn’t the money to spare. Yet his heart was moved with compassion, and he sacrificed his time to save the man’s life – a relatively small sacrifice for the Samaritan, but one that the traveler no doubt appreciated! Likewise, it is just a small sacrifice for us to contribute to this cure, but the benefit far outweighs the cost, bringing the gift of healing to a sick child. In the end, we should get involved in helping people through programs like World Concern because we are to love others, having compassion on them.

We’ve looked at parasites and the problems they present and have seen the importance that a cure makes in the lives of children worldwide. We have also considered the biblical foundation for why we should love and care for people like these children. However, there is one thing I have not yet disclosed: how much does it cost to cure one child of parasites for a year? What do you think? Could it be ten dollars, or perhaps five? The answer is astounding. The cost is just 44 cents. As a matter of fact, the treatment program managed by World Concern is called the “44-Cent Cure”. That’s less than the price of a postage stamp. For 44 cents, you can provide a child with healing and hope.

Earlier, I stated that a small sacrifice on our part can change a life. Until just recently my dad had been spending about five dollars for lunch every day - the cost of a cure for eleven children. After realizing this, I decided to make lunch for my dad to take to work every morning. Currently, this small effort saves our family seven dollars a week, allowing us to provide a cure for fifteen children. It’s a small amount, but when lives are on the line, every penny helps. Another example of the effects of small sacrifice is Heritage Christian Academy, a small elementary school of about 135 children. Since October 2011, these children have given nearly $4,000 to support the 44-cent cure, providing a cure for almost 9,000 children!

Even though times may be tough right now, especially with soaring gas prices, we can still spare a few cents to make a difference. This might mean giving up a cup of coffee every few days, or having dessert only occasionally instead of every night. Not only would it save money, it’s probably more healthy too! Maybe every time you spend money on something like stamps, decide to give the same amount to the 44-cent cure. Remember that whatever you do doesn’t have to be long-term. The key is to think creatively, and to keep in mind that every small sacrifice does impact a child’s life.

The little village girl mentioned earlier represents nearly 400 million other children, all of whom are suffering from the effects of intestinal parasites. They are real, and so is the danger that surrounds them. I have shared with you what I know about the problem and what you can do to help, so now it is up to you to take that small step of sacrifice, and join me in saving a life.

Author's age when written


This was concise. I really liked how you began the essay and how you ended it by referring once again to the introduction. I also liked that you gave a description on how YOU sacrificed the forty-four cents.

I saw some commas that were not needed and a few sentences made me a little confused until I read it over again. e.g. the first sentence of the third paragraph.

But overall, this was a good essay and thank you for letting me know how I can help! :)

"It is not the length of life, but the depth of life." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thank you for this challenge, Johanna! It's amazing what a little bit of money can do! I've bookmarked the World Concern website to look into more in a few weeks when I'm back from camp. From the first glance, it looks like a very good thing to support!

Thank you for your comments! I revised it a bit, and I think that I got most of the confusing sentences and misplaced commas. Please let me know if you see any thing else that needs to be changed. I originally wrote this as a speech, so I inserted the commas to remind me when to pause when I spoke. I must have forgotten to take them out before I published the essay here. :)

"Trials teach us what we are; they dig up the soil, and let us see what we are made of."
- Charles Spurgeon

Hey Johanna! I see your back -- Although I wasn't on AP when you were, but it's nice when people come back! :) This was a very good essay, and it does make one think!
Thanks for writing it!

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.

In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths

Go to my blog and follow it:
:) for my sake, follow