Merced College’s Performance & Lecture Series Features Story of Life Saving Mission


“Going Home: One Man’s Journey to Save Lives,” will be presented free to the public on Thursday, Feb. 25 at 6:30 p.m. in Lesher Room 111.

Every summer Merced College Chemistry professor Dr. Paul Fregene travels to his home town in Nigeria’s Borgu Province to deliver water filters and to install new water wells to fight the life-threatening water-borne disease schistosomiasis.

Fregene, who unknowingly had the disease and was treated when he first arrived in the United States, provides education and resources to fight the disease, which is caused by a parasitic flatworm. It is estimated that the disease infects 46 percent of the population in 427 communities in the African state.

Schistosomiasis is spread by contact with fresh water contaminated with the parasites. These parasites are released from infected freshwater snails. The disease is especially common among children in developing countries as they are more likely to play in contaminated water. Almost 210 million people worldwide suffer from the disease and an estimated 200,000 people die from it each year. The disease is most commonly found in Africa, as well as Asia and
South America. In tropical countries, schistosomiasis is second only to malaria among parasitic diseases.

Dr. Fregene co-founded the nonprofit Grace Outreach Coalition (GOC) in 2010, which resulted in the spearheading of a pilot program to eradicate the disease. This inspiring story of one man’s mission to save lives will detail the five-year effort of GOC to prevent the re-occurrence of the disease.

For more information on Merced College’s Performance & Lecture Series, contact John Albano at 209.386.6777.

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