Once upon a time, in a small West African village, there was a young prince named Poubila. Providence and birth had given the boy riches no other boy his age could ever dream of.
He had a dozen servants who were busy night and day, anticipating his every desire and responding as devotedly as servants ever could. His birth in itself had been a royal event that gathered kings, queens and merchants from neighboring kingdoms. As his parents’ only begotten son, he enjoyed great love and care from the whole kingdom.
However, as months and years passed, the boy showed very little physical development. Despite all the medical care and nutritious food he was given, the child remained frail and visibly malnourished.
The prince’s condition brought much confusion among his servants because anytime they came to collect dirty dishes and the remainders of the boy’s meals, they found nothing left. How could a young boy eat that much and remain so frail?
The reality was that every time Prince Poubila was served a meal and was left alone to savor it, there appeared villainous creatures who deprived him of all his food. The boy was so scared that he never resisted them and never dared to tell anyone of what he was enduring.
One day, one of the child’s nurses stayed behind the door after the boy was served his dinner. The nurse was surprised to see wicked, ugly creatures appear from nowhere and devour the prince’s food in no time. She rushed to the king’s doctor and to the army chief, who gave her a powerful weapon for the prince to fight off his assailants.
The next day, when the creatures appeared again at lunchtime, the boy took his new weapon and won victory over them. Since then, he has never been attacked again and has begun to thrive and grow into a strong and handsome youth.
A happy ending, no doubt. And it applies even to our world.
Recently, Lucienne, the health and social worker at the Saksida Child Development Center in Burkina Faso, said to the 300 children who attend the center,
“Each of you here today is this young prince. Many times there are little creatures that try to steal the food that should go into your stomachs. What would you do to prevent them from doing so? Here is the solution.”
Lucienne held up a pill and continued,
“Just chew this tablet and you’ll be healthy, handsome and strong princes like Poubila! Who wants one of them?”
Suddenly, a crowd of jumping children formed around Lucienne, their mouths wide open to receive the deworming tablets.
In addition to the deworming, the children are taught how to keep their environment clean and the basics of washing their hands before eating. This initiative to deworm children was successful and our staff hope to do it on a regular basis.
As soon as she returned home from her day at the development center, one of the children, Yasmina, ran to her mother and told her the story of Prince Poubila and about the tablet she chewed at the center. It didn’t taste sweet, she said, but she took it to be able to fight against the ugly, wicked worms that want to deprive her of food.