In 2005, musician Paul Simon joined thecommunity.com to help launch distribution of 4000 mosquito nets for East Timor’s malaria prevention program.
According to the Global Fund for Malaria, TB and AIDS, mosquito-borne malaria is responsible for approximately 40% of the deaths in East Timor. The island also has the largest burden of Tuberculosis in Asia, with about 250 cases out of every 100,000 people.
We arrived in East Timor with Paul Simon, with 4000 mosquito bed nets to be distributed to pregnant women and families with young children in East Timor. A joint effort, the trip was co-sponsored by the United Nations Foundation, and nets were furnished by the Mark J. Gordon Foundation.
The trip began with visits to local hospitals, orphanages and clinics in Dili, East Timor’s capitol, and dinner at the home of Xanana Gusmao, East Timor’s then President. The next day, we left with Ramos-Horta, Paul, and others and headed to Manatutu, a large town on East Timor’s coast.
Mothers with small children and pregnant women had gathered to find out about the nets. They listened to instructions on how to properly use the nets, and received their nets from Paul. Paul was given a performance by one of the local rock bands, and picked up the guitar himself and sang an impromptu “This Land is Your Land”.
In the evening we returned to a reception at Ramos-Horta’s home with UN and government dignitaries.
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