What do you get when you put yoga mat distributors, WNBA champions, major corporations, religious organizations, and teenage activists in a room for two days? A recipe for success in the fight against malaria. The Nothing Buts Nets Partner and Champion Summit celebrated the innovative alliances that have kept our campaign strong, while brainstorming strategies to move Nothing But Nets forward.
From the start of the summit here in Washington, we knew this would be an exciting couple of days. During introductions, our partners and Champions shared why they collaborate with Nothing But Nets year after year. Nyamah Dunbar of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) said that “one of the best things about Nothing But Nets is bringing diverse partners together to fight malaria.” The summit was jam-packed stories of people and organizations, including JCI, the Union for Reform Judaism, the NBA, and ExxonMobil, working together to end this deadly—and preventable—disease.
The summit kicked off with impact speaker, Rev Dr. Toby Awasum. Dr. Toby Awasum shared the painful story of losing eight siblings to malaria while growing up in Cameroon.
“My brother, who was 7 years old, dead. My first time in my life to see a dead body was my own brother,” Awasum said. “He died because of malaria.”
“Any effort that you are making, you are saving a whole tribe, you are saving a whole life.” Awasum ended with a Kenyan proverb, called Ubuntu, which means “I am because we are.”
“If we will reach the goal of eliminating malaria and saving a life…let us go together.”
Nothing But Nets Director Chris Helfrich talked about the direct impact to mothers and children on the ground, emphasizing that every $10 makes a real difference. Kevin Starace, the United Nations Foundation’s Executive Director of Global Health Innovation, shared some of the latest data on the disease. Partners including the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR), the Mentor Initiative, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), UMCOR and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) help us ensure vulnerable populations, including refugees, aren’t forgotten.
The energy from the summit carried us to Capitol Hill, where partners and Champions advocated to 24 members of Congress to keep U.S. support of malaria prevention strong. Tom Walsh, Senior Program Officer at the Gates Foundation, put it best: “We’re heading to Capitol Hill today because global health investments are some of the very best money our government spends.” Though foreign aid represents just 1 percent of the federal budget, its impact on the fight against malaria is critical.
A big thank you to all of our partners for their time, energy, and dedication to Nothing But Nets and sending nets and saving lives. Can’t wait to meet again next year!