Malawi: Meet Louis the Generation Changer

Around 3 billion people live in areas at risk of rabies – almost half of the world's population. Yet, rabies isn’t widely understood. Very few people know about the seriousness of rabies or the devastation it can cause, until it’s too late.

A child dies of rabies every ten minutes, often in rural communities, hidden from the world. The families, shocked and heartbroken, are left to grieve over an entirely preventable death. Because rabies is 100% vaccine-preventable.

That’s why we must not be silent. We must talk about rabies, educate those most at-risk, and vaccinate the dogs they live alongside.

No one does this more loudly and bravely than Louis.

In 2009, Louis lost his four-year-old son to rabies.

He has channelled the pain of losing his firstborn, Devin, into positive action to ensure other sons and daughters are saved from an unimaginable death. Louis has become a Data Collector for Mission Rabies in Malawi and contacts dog owners and asks them to participate in our free vaccination clinics.

Now, Louis is here to share the story with you.

Donate today and help Louis make this the Final Rabies Generation.

A simple dog bite

At only four years of age, Devin was bitten by a dog in Malawi. Completely unaware of rabies and how can be transmitted from dogs to humans, his family simply washed and cleaned the wound at home.

“I remember very greatly that after three weeks I noticed a fever in my son,” said Louis, his father. “I took him to the doctor. The doctor just gave us some aspirins.”

But poor Devin didn’t improve – his condition only worsened.

“After one week I noticed that the fever is not gone, but he was also having a problem swallowing. I also took him to the doctor. After the doctor examined him, he asked me to sit outside, alone, away from my family members, and he asked me a question.”

“What happened to your son?”

Louis told to the doctor that his son was bitten by a dog, almost four weeks ago. The doctor ran more tests before referring them to a local veterinarian.

“The veterinarian told us that Devin was suffering from rabies. It was very new for me because, at that time, I didn’t know about rabies.”

But the doctor and veterinarian knew about rabies. They knew it was much more serious than it appeared. It was fatal. They knew that once a child is symptomatic – even just the slight tingling of the hands or disorientation – death is inevitable.

“There’s nothing we can do for your son”, they said to Louis.

“I cried. Knowing that as I father, I failed my son. And he was gone.”

A simple dog bite
The loss of a son

The loss of a son

The pain of losing his son consumed Louis. The unvaccinated dog who had bitten Devin belonged to Louis’ cousin. A fact that both he and his wife struggled with. On top of that, just like Louis, his family and friends knew nothing of rabies, which made sharing the news that much harder.

“They thought as a father I’d failed my son to buy drugs. But I said there are no drugs for rabies. So, I was just staying indoors, not waking. Having memories of your son... It’s very painful.”

A man with a mission

It wasn’t until six years after his son died of rabies that Louis came across a job advertisement on Facebook. A job with Mission Rabies, a charity that was saving both people and animals from rabies.

Louis was quick to respond with: “Let me know about this rabies stuff. Maybe I can be someone of help in the future.”

After a phone call and an interview, Louis began his job as a Data Collector for the charity, tasked with urging pet owners to get their dogs vaccinated against rabies.

“I take a very huge role in telling the owners the dangers of rabies. I always take time to tell them what happened to my son. I never fear about telling anyone about my story because I know, rabies is very dangerous, and here in Malawi, a lot of people suffering from rabies.”

Donate today and help Louis make this the Final Rabies Generation.

A man with a mission

Louis the Generation Changer

For centuries, rabies has stolen the future of children like Devin and caused heartache in families like Louis’. But it can be defeated, and we can be the generation to eliminate it for good.

Through educating at-risk people in rabies prevention and vaccinating dogs the dogs that live alongside them, we’re saving lives. Since 2015, when we started working in Malawi, we’ve reached over two million children with our life-saving lessons and continue to vaccinate a target of 90,000 dogs every single year.

We’re determined to make this the Final Rabies Generation.

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Mission Rabies

Mission Rabies

4 Castle Street, Cranborne, Dorset, BH21 5PZ, United Kingdom

Mission Rabies is a project of Worldwide Veterinary Service (WVS), registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales (1100485)

Mission Rabies USA, Inc is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization – EIN 81-5065473

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