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Yakima man volunteered in Sierra Leone to help protect people from malaria

Yakima man volunteered in Sierra Leone to help protect people from malaria.  (Photo courtesy of Joseph Trenkenschuh)

HIGHLAND, Wash. - A Yakima man who works at Highland High School took nothing but a backpack and two 50-pound bags of mosquito nets to help protect people in Africa from malaria.

Joe Trenkenschuh helps students at Highland High School get ready for the next step and he went to Freetown, Sierra Leone, in Africa, to help protect them against malaria.

"It's one of the most burdened countries, Sub-Saharan Africa disproportionately holds the highest burden of malaria versus the rest of the world," he said.

He started fundraising for the project by biking to work for a total of 100 miles a week. His goal was $3,000 but he only raised about $700.

With that he was able to ship two 50-pound bags of mosquito nets and then showed people how to set them up in their homes.

The only problem was how to get them around the city.

"I had two 50-pound bags of nets and it was just impossible to carry them around because I was carrying them on my back. I would hire someone with their wheel barrow," he said.

Trenkenschuh has traveled to 31 different countries and majored in international studies in global health.

He plans on putting a video together of his trip to show his students they can combine what they are studying and what they love to do.

"There's a lot of different options of what you can do out there, he said. “Even if you do study something in university or maybe you'll do something totally different, but you can apply that to what your passion is."

While his students are waiting for his video to come together, he plans on helping them find ways to get involved in their communities.

While Trenkenschuh didn't reach his goal of three thousand dollars, he plans on putting together another trip to go back to Sierra Leone next year.

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