This International Youth Day, we're highlighting the amazing work of young people in the fight to end malaria. Hiba Akbar and Priyanka Meesa are two friends that have both been working with Nothing But Nets for 2 years. Here, they share why they're passionate about ending malaria. Read their story below!
Hiba: I was inspired to join Nothing But Nets because my dad contracted malaria as a child when he was living in Pakistan. Fortunately, he was able to get the resources needed to treat him. After hearing what he had to go through, it made me want to help other children and adults who were going through the same thing because no one deserves to go through that much pain, especially since malaria is such a preventable disease.
Priya: My dad suffered from malaria during his childhood also. He grew up in India and when I asked him about malaria, he immediately had multiple stories of his friends who had contracted it because it is extremely prevalent in India. One of the most heart wrenching stories he shared was the story of his friend’s 8 year old daughter.
She lived in America, but went with her dad to visit relatives in a small village in India. Once there, she was bitten by a mosquito and ended up contracting cerebral malaria. She ended up dying because she did not have a bed net or access to proper medical care. Her death, like many others, could’ve been easily prevented. I joined this cause because I don’t want anyone else to die from such a preventable disease again.
What have people said about your commitment to ending malaria?
Our parents have been proud of the work we’ve done, and have even been inspired to join the cause too. Many of our teachers have congratulated us on becoming a part of such an important cause and have even inquired on how to donate or help. Seeing the results inspires us to keep working with Nothing But Nets.
Knowing that malaria is a preventable disease - and that any bit of awareness helps - pushes us to continue advocating for this cause. It’s incredible to see how much of a difference one person can make and we think it’s really important to get people to join causes like these, so that we can all work towards a better future.
How do you get involved?
We attended two Nothing But Nets summits and have talked to many congressmen, senators, and other supporters of Nothing but Nets. One of our favorite activations was when we hosted a fundraiser at our school and raised more than $1,000. We have also published two articles in our local newspaper, and have also been interviewed by the local news. This is just the beginning: we are going to continue this work by continuing to engage others with this cause, and also attending more NBN summits in the future.
What's your advice to other young people who want to get involved in a cause?
This International Youth Day, our advice to other young people is: don’t be afraid of speaking up and using your voice! YOU, as an individual, can make a difference!