Tonight, more than 68,000 people in Western Tanzania are sleeping safely under bed nets for the first time in many years, protected from malaria. The story of how we distributed 38,000 nets to the people of Nyarugusu refugee camp, a place that had over 62,000 documented cases of malaria last year, begins with you.
When you donate $10, $20, or $100 to Nothing But Nets, your money purchases and sends life-saving bed nets to the places in the world that are the hardest hit from malaria and to the most vulnerable populations, including refugees, children under age five, and pregnant women. In this case, we had enough supporters stand up with $10+ donations – over ten thousand! – and answer our appeal to send nets to Nyarugusu. People from all over America came together to help protect vulnerable children and families in a remote corner of the world who they’re likely never to meet. $10 from someone in Ohio covers a mother, Neema, and her newborn boy, Emmanuel in Nyarugusu, and $20 from Texas covers Angel’s family of five who sleep together on two mats on a dirt floor. $400 from a Girl Scout troop in California covers all ten beds in the camp hospital’s pediatric ward where malaria is the leading cause of admission.
Leading this distribution was an incredible experience that left me even more convinced that this campaign is a true force for good in this world. Your $10 makes all the difference. I could see it in every net that I handed to a refugee in desperate need.
Your $10 helped our partners – the Red Cross and the UN Refugee Agency – prepare a daylong net distribution event. Families waited patiently in line for hours, with smiles on their faces, to get to the front of the line to receive their nets. When they finally got to the front of the line, they presented their net “vouchers,” put their signature in the book, and collected their nets – one for every two people in a home.
After receiving the nets, these refugee families were funneled into the education station where nets were set up outside. There, they were taught why it’s critical to hang a net to prevent malaria, and how to hang a net and care for it properly. All studies show that long-term net usage rates rise dramatically if a family is taught why bed nets are important and how to use them. We were even able to join many families on walks back to their homes to help them hang the nets.
Do these mothers –these refugees – really appreciate the nets? After all, they have other needs, including shelter, education, reliable food and water, and a realistic plan to return to their home counties. The answer is “YES!” Every mother we spoke to was grateful, excited, and relieved. Malaria has devastated Nyarugusu for years. Every day there are 170 new cases of malaria in the camp, and every week children are dying. Now, these mothers know that their children are going to be safe from malaria every night when they go to sleep, all thanks to the $10 you donate.
68,000 people sleeping safely as a result of a lot of people making a simple donation. Give $10. Send a net, save a life.